Demonizing Historical Figures

Christopher Columbus photo from historykey.com

“Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World.” ~Christopher Columbus

I don’t know where the trend started, maybe because they dumbed down history for little kids, but somehow we came to see historical figures as pristine people on pedestals, comic book heroes without marks. And, when we discover they are just men or women with same flaws and sin-filled natures as the rest of us, we become disgusted and disregard whatever good they offered the world.

History is being twisted to emphasize modern ideals without regard to culture and norms of the past. I just heard the name “Christopher Columbus” used as a derogative slur. As if one of the greatest explorers of all time is the devil incarnate.

We’re all broken, each one of us, from Adam and Eve to the baby in your family, we’re imperfect humans. Yet, our very history is being manipulated to demonize certain historical figures and canonize others. We live in an age where Christopher Columbus is evil and Malcolm X is a saint.

Neither is correct, of course.

Aren’t we simply bastardizing the real story of history to promote a modern-day concept?

Yeah, we are. And, kids are growing up today hating our forefathers, hating Old World Explorers, and not understanding how they shaped our views, added to science, culture, and our understanding of the world.

There are no devils and no saints, only humans. Broken sinners navigating our planet, sometimes doing horrible things, and sometimes doing wonderful things. The world won’t be perfect until God remakes it, so we must learn to wrestle with the notion that historical figures are good and bad…and just like us.

We cannot alter history for the sake of promoting an agenda. We need those visionaries and explorers of our past that brought us to the future we now have. We can have an honest look at their human frailties, but not at the sake of their contributions.

“No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Saviour, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His holy service.” ~Christopher Columbus

For more information visit: Christopher Columbus: Hero for the Ages or Genocidal Maniac?

 

Baker vs. Gay Couple

Photo: Pride Life

The Supreme Court on a 7-2 ruling found that a Christian baker had the religious right to not bake a wedding cake for a gay couple.

I could dissect this issue to death–uh, that would be vivisection, though, yes?–but since everyone else is doing that, I’ll just give you a brief synopsis of my brain waves.

In a nutshell, I believe…

1. The Baker has a right to bake or not to bake based on his “religious beliefs.” He can do as he wishes based on his own interpretation of his religion and his religious views. Would we ask an orthodox Jew caterer to serve pork if he or she felt it wrong to handle? That said, I believe he will soon go out of business by not doing business. If I knew a company had refused to help my gay friends, I would quickly find another company. That’s the wonderful thing about capitalism: it drives the will of the people. Something government cannot do. Government cannot legislate thought. I believe that most people are decent and good, and really don’t care if you’re gay or not. Just be a person first not an in-your-face sexual orientation. I love you and your married partner, just let’s have other topics of conversation, please? Plus, I know you. You come to my house, you share my food, my wine, you support me and my husband and care about our kids. You’re great people and I love you! If you tell me the Baker refused you service, I would respect that baker’s right, but I would find another baker.

 2. The Gay Couple needs to find another baker and not make this a political stance. The courts are no place to change hearts. A piece of legislation is not going to bring instant support. Reach out to your neighbors. Socialize with straight people. Build bridges. And, of course, find another baker, then laud him or her. Make the biggest, fattest, sexiest deal about them baking your cake! Drive business to them! As for the Baker, voice your disdain on Yelp!, but keep it in a professional manner for bigger impact. It will get you better results. Trust me, as a former brick and mortar business owner, I know firsthand the singular effectiveness of bad Yelp! reviews. And, don’t forget the good Yelp! review for your chosen bakery. They’ll appreciate it, I assure you!

I think it is wrong for Christians to choose gayness as some sort of religious stance against sin, as some Christians do. I believe that being selective in “sin admonition” isn’t a godly trait.

Had the Baker also vetted each couple considering a wedding cake to find out if they’d had premarital sex? If they were currently married to other people? If they were drug addicts or drunks? Had committed murder? Had children out of wedlock? Or, if they were currently engaged in a plethora of other sins?

The Baker was wrong to make one sin MORE significant than any other.

We can’t selectively choose a Bible verse to make our pet point; we must take the Bible in total and comprehend the cultural references and use of language. Remember, the Bible wasn’t written in English, so we must go to the languages of the Bible (Greek/Aramaic/Hebrew) to glean proper understanding. For instance, some believe that Leviticus 19:28 teaches that we shouldn’t get tattoos. Tell that to my pastor and half the staff who are covered in tattoos at MY church! Oh, and I have one, too.

Our goal as Christians is to love one another. Let God work on each person individually. Priscilla Shirer (War Room, The Armor of God) has taught me that what is right for one, may not be right for another. Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial (1Cor 10:23). Priscilla tells of when the Holy Spirit told her not to drink. Now, she doesn’t condone abstinence from alcohol for everyone. Anyone can drink. But, FOR HER it was not right. God guides us in the way we should go. (Psalm 32:8).

 Our job is not to worry about other people’s sin, but to worry about our own. First remove the plank from your own eye, then take the speck out of your brother’s, so that you won’t be a hypocrite (Matthew 7:5).

Samantha Bee: A Thought On Bullying

Photo by Rex Features

We all remember those girls. You know, the ones who whispered behind our backs, or outright called us names. Individually, they were spiteful. In a pack, they were horrific.

Yesterday, Samantha Bee called Ivanka Trump a derogatory female slur. Personally, I found it disgusting that any women would use that horrible term for another women, regardless of reason. Ms. Bee did apologize, but when others chimed in their support for her, she walked back the apology.

Sorry, not sorry.

Ms. Bee may be in the spotlight now, but she reminds me of those girls in high school. Bullies are bullies whether they walk the school hallways or headline the media.

Women who tear down other women because they don’t agree with their politics hurt ALL women, because now we’re taking sides. If you agree with Ms. Bee’s politics, you agree the terminology is okay. If you disagree with the terminology, you must agree with Ms. Trump’s politics. It’s a lose-lose situation, and that’s why people who name call, like Samantha Bee, are so successful. The audience has to pick a side. They can defend vile speech to agree with Ms. Bee’s politics, or they can defend Ms. Trump out of disgust with the foul word.

Brilliant tactic, actually. And, leading to the decay of our society.

This is what my kids learn in school about bullies.  The ones noted as “KIDS” (from stopbullying.gov) are what we’re teaching our children. The ones noted as “MEDIA” are my similar take on the adults—and I use that term loosely.

  • KIDS: Get into physical or verbal fights

MEDIA: Verbally bash others in interviews or monologues.

  • KIDS: Have friends who bully others

MEDIA: Have colleagues and associates who bully others

  • KIDS: Are increasingly aggressive

MEDIA: Are increasingly angered/triggered and use foul language

  • KIDS: Get sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently

MEDIA: Get fired or reprimanded on the job

  • KIDS: Have unexplained extra money or new belongings

MEDIA: Offered new contracts or promotions by bullying the correct people

  • KIDS: Blame others for their problems

MEDIA: Blame the other side for their problems

  • KIDS: Don’t accept responsibility for their actions

MEDIA: Don’t accept responsibility for their actions

  • KIDS: Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity

MEDIA: Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity

So, that’s the irony. We teach our kids anti-bullying curriculum whilst we give our time and attention to the biggest bullies of all: those grabbing headlines.

For now, it’s Roseanne and Samantha Bee, and tomorrow the names will change but the venom will remain. So, what can we do?

Turn them off. Bullies only win when they have an audience or a victim. Don’t be either.

Roseanne and Other Twitter Nightmares

Roseanne’s racist tweet gets her show canned. Bill Maher apologizes for using racial slur. Alec Baldwin viciously slams gay reporter. Joy Behar equates Christianity with mental illness.  Trump…well, you know. And on, and on, and on…

The attacks are personal. They’re not about issues. Neither are they about seeking resolution. They are personal and cruel. Most are distasteful and horrid digs at a person or a culture, revolving around race, sexual orientation, disability, looks, or any number of physical or characteristic attributes.

 But they are not about issues.

 Issues themselves are boring and don’t grab headlines. Shocking slams get attention.

 Looking over social media, it’s clear that very few people have honor or mores (look it up, this is not a typo). There is no civilized discourse, or honorable interaction. Everything said is meant to grab attention and to feed or sway an audience.

 And, we are the audience. We’re the suckers lapping it up.

 I’m reminded of a story my husband told me. His dad, after a long career in the Air Force, lived out his work life in the corporate world. He nabbed a gig at an American plant of a Japanese company. Now, anyone who has worked for Japanese companies understands their unique culture of comingling capitalistic big business with Japanese cultural protocols. It can make for some interesting situations. My father-in-law worked on the team reorganizing a new inventory system. He became alarmed at the lack of security, and when questioning his superior, the response was, “We will rely on honor.” To which, my father-in-law replied, “Sir, we’re Americans, we have no honor.” The losses that first year were so great that they shut down the entire program.

 I can hear his sentiment ringing in my head as I read the latest scandals: we have no honor.

 As a collective, we don’t.

 But as an individual, we can.

 You, me, your neighbor, your co-worker, your spouse, your friend, your mother, your brother…we can EACH have honor in this dishonorable world.

 How? 

 The honorable thing to do when someone else doesn’t have honor is not to fight back, but to turn off that person. Unfollow or unfriend them. Unplug from Social Media. Stop listening to the news. Stop scanning the latest headlines. When we’re stuck in the Troll-dom of responding to every headline, every tweet, post, quote, or opinion piece, we’re part of the problem, not the solution. We allow the garbage to thrive.

 But, if I don’t respond, no one will!

 No. If you DO respond, you’re not changing them, you’re giving them an audience. You’re giving them a platform, an opportunity to be the most talked about issue of the day.

 Don’t give them that power. Unplug. Take a walk. Meet a friend for coffee. Do your work. Laugh with your family and friends. Volunteer. Give back. 

 But, don’t continue to feed the negativity.

 They have no honor. But YOU can.

 “Etiquette is the science of living. It embraces ethics. It is honor.” ~Emily Post, etiquette author

Expectations and the Devil’s Tramping Ground

Devil’s Tramping Ground, photo courtesy of northcarolinaghosts.com

One of my biggest disappointments was one of my own making: expecting someone to be something they were not.

Have you ever had that? Have you ever put expectations on someone else, only to have them disappoint again and again?

It hurts. And, yet, they are not the ones hurting us, we are the ones hurting us.

Unrealistic—or even realistic—expectations silently placed on a friend or family member will merely sow seeds of resentment as that person fails to live up to what we’ve imagined. They aren’t purposefully hurting us, they are simply going about their lives, living as they choose.

There’s a place a few miles from here called the Devil’s Tramping Ground. It’s a spot of earth where nothing grows, and legend is that anything planted there will wither and die. It looks real enough, and “ghost hunters” have detected anomalies (whatever that means), but it’s mostly a place to visit for a lark or to drink beer, as evidenced by the empty cans on the trail.

When we sow our seeds of expectation in a Devil’s Tramping Ground, we cannot expect fresh, verdant shoots. Planting our hopes on someone else’s behavior, no matter how “right” it seems to us, will not end well…for us.

Like my father once told me, if you want to make sure people don’t disappoint you, don’t expect anything out of them!

Oh, true. Sadly, true. Even when we expect them to do the right thing. Even when we expect them to live up to their role, as mother, wife, sister, friend…titles don’t ensure our needs are met. I have friends bending over backwards for some of the most vile people on the planet simply because they hold the title of mother or father. Titles are worthless. Behavior determines role.

The next time someone disappoints us, we need to perform a forensic analysis. What were our expectations? Were they realistic? Did the person know what was expected? (Not merely could they assume, but did they actually know?) Is the current behavior linked to past behavior? Should we really be surprised, or does it just feel good to “be hurt.”

Sometimes playing the victim can have its own rewards, so we need to be careful with how we handle hurt. We can’t wear it like a mantle. We need to turn to God. God promises to comfort us. God promises to care for us in our hurts.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” ~2 Corinthians 1:3-4

The next time we’re about to place expectations on another, we need to ask ourselves if it’s warranted. By forgoing placing expectations, we can avoid being hurt. But, since we’re human, we’re bound to do it again, so the next time we’re hurt or disappointed, we need to turn to God for comfort.

And, then, try not to do again.

So much easier said than done.

The Cure is God

Image courtesy of Virtue Online

I’m in news fatigue and it’s hit me hard.

Wars, violent “demonstrations,” child abuse, sexual abuse, murder, missing persons, protests, slander, holier-than-thou liberals and conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Fascist Socialists, and people so sure that they can solve ______ by banning _____, or by their own will, ingenuity or prowess, it’s enough to make one sick. Everyone is so sure that their idea is the ultimate solution and they, alone, are the ones to fix the issue.

Problem is: they can’t.

We can’t.

Only God can.

We all need more God.

While the Christian religion has been hijacked and is misrepresented and maligned in the world, those who wish its destruction don’t factor in the truth that religion isn’t God; only God is God.

The more we self-centeredly believe that we, on our own, will solve a problem, the farther away that goal becomes. We were born to need God.  It’s in our DNA.  We are wired to rely on God.

And, when we do, when we give it up to Him to solve, and fix, and help, and comfort, He appears in our woes in miraculous ways. He’s not a genie to snap His fingers and make the problem go away. Instead, He guides us along a path we hadn’t considered to live, even in the strife, and welcomes us into a peace we never thought possible.

So, for a better life: turn off the news. Stop listening to the media and the talking heads, politicians and activists, and start listening to God. He will lead you to a wonderful place, even in your storm, that you never realized existed.

It’s Going Great…Then, WHAM!

Cartoon by Maria Scrivan, Tribune Content Agency, LLC

My friend posted on Facebook, asking, “So how come every time things are going great something bad happens?”

It seems that way, right? I mean, we’re tootling along, following that proverbial primrose path, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the tank is clean (Nemo, anyone?), and then WHAM—we get smacked down like a bird flying into glass waking up stunned and immobile on the ground.

But, is that really how it is? It may seem like it, but what we can forget is: that’s life. Life is a roller coaster, up and down and all around. Good things and bad things happen, sometimes simultaneously. Like Frankie sang, “You’re riding high in April; Shot down in May!”

One way we can offset the feeling of having the wind knocked out of our sails is to realize that not everything is going to come off perfectly. Our lives in alignment and chugging smoothly along with our days is not our normal. Here is where gratitude enters the picture.

When we are grateful for our lives going well, in little and big things, we can see the peaks more clearly. When we don’t accept the peaks as our base point, as our normal life, but as gifts, lovely and divinely offered, we appreciate them.

Got fresh water from the tap today? Is your belly full, do you have clothes, did you laugh? Did the lights come on when you flipped the switch?

We do ourselves a disservice when one million and one things in our days happen flawlessly yet we concentrate on the few that went wrong. That doesn’t mean that a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis or a child’s death isn’t cause for our world turning upside down, but I’m not talking about disasters. I’m talking about fender benders, inconveniences and annoyances.

While I was writing this blog post, my keyboard stopped working. I spent a good portion of my morning trying to fix the issue. I did, but I let it derail me. Not totally, I took a break and worked on a project I need to finish by next week that didn’t require a computer. But, even with the knowledge, yes, even as I’m writing about it, even as I’m fervent about it, I still let the snag get to me.

Like you, perhaps, I’m a work in progress.

So, we need to remember, in all things: perfection is not our base line. When we embrace that, we can more easily handle this roller coaster called life, with its ups and downs and all overs. And, maybe with some effort, we can even learn to enjoy the ride.

As long as my keyboard works…and my car starts…and, well, I’d better re-read this post and try again.

Being Known

Nothing drives home the need of being actively involved in a small group at a large church so much as experiencing a life-altering event and having your posse mobilize on your behalf. Or, likewise, the opposite.

As a small group leader, I spend some amount of time encouraging members to attend our meetings. Life gets in the way, of course, travel, work, activities, family…you name it! Our lives are busy.

Still, there are those who stop coming, for one reason or another, and they fall off the radar, yet they don’t want to be taken off the roster.  Just in case. The other members soon forget they’re a part of the group, or new ones join having never met them. Their names take on a distant ring not a familiar tone.

In their minds, they’re still “part of the group.”

My heart breaks for those people, because they aren’t known. They might be remembered, but no one really knows who they are. They aren’t sharing in the intimacy happening weekly. They’re simply a name on the roster.

I had one such woman contact me today. She got some devastating news and she was distraught. She asked for prayers and I immediately sent out a group notice. And, I have zero doubt that our group, whether they remember her or even know her, will pray for her.

But, how much more valuable would it be for her to reach out on her own? To speak directly to the women she knows, loves and spends time with? How much more reassuring would it feel to personally receive their heartfelt responses?

One might get a Meal Train started, or offer to take and pickup her kids from extra curriculars.  Another might invite her out to lunch or coffee. Someone might start taking donations for gift cards.  Any number of things might occur when the group is involved.

I’m not saying those things won’t happen. Our group is full of caring, loving women who pitch in to take care of others. But, we have only so much bandwidth to give to this, that, and a hundred other things. Many noble things that require attention.

The desire to help is there. It is. We help strangers all the time.

But, how much more impactful could it be to know without a doubt that your group has your back?

And, they tell you that personally.

P.S. I just received two inquiries from my prayer request email to my group as to how they can help me and what can they do. I was pretty clear that the request was from the other woman, not me. However, there would have been zero doubt if the woman had contacted the group herself… 

Alfie Evans, My Take

Peter Byrne – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Backstory: Alfie Evans is a little boy in England who has been on the front lines in a life support battle between his parents, health officials and the British government. Alfie, like Charlie Gard, has been used as a symbol for those preaching against socialized medicine. Alfie is suspected as having a degenerative mitochondrial condition which is terminal.

My own concerns with Aflie’s situation, beyond the heartache and tragedy, are thus:

1. His parents are barred from seeking a second opinion outside of “the system.”

2. The hospital has police guarding the boy, so the parents can’t take him out of the building.

The first matter just doesn’t sit well with me. We hear all the time we need to seek a second opinion. A true second opinion is not another doctor in the same medical facility, but one outside of the facility/hospital/practice. Locally here, the Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem is coming under fire now for performing mastectomies and lumpectomies on women who were diagnosed with cancer but didn’t actually have it. Second opinions can mean life or death.

The second matter is such a violation of human rights I can’t see straight. I liken it to a police state. As of today, the parents are going to court to see if a judge will allow them to take their little boy home to die.  I. Can’t. Even. The hospital and has fought and won the right to refuse further treatment for the boy, and now, they won’t let him leave the building. They won’t care for him, but they won’t let others care for him, either.

The one thing good to come of this—even with its hijacking of causes from the anti-socialized medicine groups and the anti-vaxxers—is that we’re talking about these issues. We’re having conversations about the right to refuse treatment, the right to give treatment, and the right to die with dignity, et. al.  These are discussions that we need to have. These affect us all.

My own opinion is that life is precious. People have a right to not suffer. Parents have a right to care for their young. It’s at once very simple and extremely complicated. 

Why Kanye West’s Tweets Matter

(image via Billboard)

In a country that promises freedom for its people we have anything but. The thought police have taken over, and, because their voices are so loud and their demands so “righteous,” we have most of the nation cowering and second-guessing their every sentence, every word. Those who don’t fall in line are labeled and shamed.

And, yet here comes Kanye. Tweeting that he has a right to think for himself—gasp! Doesn’t “Ye” know that you just can’t do that these days? Speaking the current party line with approved talking points is not only encouraged but expected. Anyone who falls out of step, especially a celebrity, is castigated and shunned. He must be out of his mind.

I was so stunned at first that I thought for sure his Twitter account had been hacked. Or, I reasoned, nah, this is some joke, he’s punking us. But, no, he’s sticking by his tweets that people are free to think for themselves. It’s not a novel idea, but it certainly hasn’t been used in a while.

Maybe we can all take a cue from Ye. Maybe we CAN think for ourselves, instead of regurgitating popular opinions presented by the media, celebrities and politicians.

Ye’s own words could be our next step toward gaining back our freedom as a people. He said, “I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.

And, so we do.