UN-CIVIL WAR

UN-CIVIL WAR

Robin Wright wrote in the New Yorker Magazine (a leaning progressive publication), “America’s stability is increasingly an undercurrent in political discourse. Earlier this year, I began a conversation with Keith Mines about America’s turmoil. Mines has spent his career—in the U.S. Army Special Forces, the United Nations, and now the State Department—navigating civil wars in other countries, including Afghanistan, Colombia, El Salvador, Iraq, Somalia, and Sudan. He returned to Washington after sixteen years to find conditions that he had seen nurture conflict abroad now visible at home. It haunts him. In March, Mines was one of several national-security experts whom Foreign Policy asked to evaluate the risks of a second civil war—with percentages. Mines concluded that the United States faces a sixty-per-cent chance of civil war over the next ten to fifteen years. Other experts’ predictions ranged from five per cent to ninety-five per cent. The sobering consensus was thirty-five per cent. And that was five months before Charlottesville.”

America may be coming unhinged and we need leaders who will speak up and lead from our Constitution and Bill of Rights but more importantly from the principals of the Golden Rule. Christians, Jews, Muslims, and almost every other faith community on the face of the earth has some form of this belief in their system of faith. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It seems as though the fringe is more and more driving the dialog of our nation. Included in this may be many in our own government. Shutting down speech and using pejorative messages toward dissenting opinions results in the attack of personalities and the shutting down of debate. It’s easy to do with the seeming anonymity of the internet and social media but it is driving a deeper and deeper wedge between the people of our nation.

The Civil War became a shooting war because diplomacy with words did not help. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” A failure of leadership by President James Buchanan Jr. put the nation in jeopardy of having no clear voice of reason in the public square. We are seeing that again today.

(Thanks for the lively discussion of the blog yesterday discussion is good when it advances understanding rather than shutting it down.)

Be Well…

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Monuments

Monuments

Tearing down monuments will not change history. I saw a mob pulling down a monument to a civil war soldier; it was a soldier of the Confederacy. I’ve seen the  “stars and bars” removed from the public square as well. n some instances it is warranted. Yet, my reaction is that you can’t hide our ugly history. Will we learn from it or will we try to forget it? This is what confuses me with the people who want to purge the relics of a bygone era. Robert E. Lee, once considered the greatest general of either the North or South, after the fall of the Confederacy was at worship and a person of color approached the communion rail. The Southerners were aghast at this brazen display of a “negro” attending this church and so openly approaching the altar. No one joined him at the communion rail until Robert E. Lee went up and kneeled beside him.

Perhaps there are things we can learn from Lee, Grant, Lincoln and others about our history that will help us today. Abolishing evidence of that history will not promote an understanding of where we have been or where we need to go.

Be Well…

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Race

Race

We race to get somewhere. We race to get away at times. We race our best time when we run or walk. Yet, in another rendition of the word we find race, class, religion, sexuality and a host of other identifiers separating us from one another. Some claim the right of free speech even when it is filled with hateful words. Others turn their hate and anger toward the people who are filled with rage and speak words that most of us find deeply offensive. Our country was founded on the ability of it’s people to speak freely. Still, one thing is sure – we as the human race are all one people.

How do we bridge our man made division? Hate and violence cannot shut down hate and violence. I’m not sure the human race can ever learn this truth. Once when Jesus looked over the city of Jerusalem he said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37) It seemed like a moment of exasperation and yet he still willingly went to the cross out of love for humanity. In order to save the human race that does not have the ability to save itself, Jesus offers himself for the sake of the world. 

“When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?” Pete Seeger sang in his song Where Have All the Flowers Gone. We won’t learn  until the human heart is changed. While churches are emptying across America we will soon forever loose our moorings. We will have no sense of shared ethics and we will be more deeply divided. Our enemies relish our self destructive ways while we go on living seeming oblivious to what is happening.

Negative? Yes, a bit, but only a spiritual revival can restore order in America.

 

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Pilgrimage

Pilgrimage

Is there a special place you go that refreshes your soul? It’s as though you unlock something deep inside of you that has been kept from your consciousness because of the responsibilities you have to perform. I’m a people person. I love to be around people, I receive energy from being around people, and I feel connected with who I am around people. However, there are times I have to be away from them too; even people I love. The intensity of the feelings and energy it takes needs to be replenished by nature, quiet, and a place of memory – a place of pilgrimage. There are a few places that do this for me. Some are too far for me to travel to on any regular basis but a couple are close and it feels as though a battery inside of me is recharging as soon as I step foot on that sacred ground.

Jesus was smart. He found a way to do this every day. Early in the morning before sunrise, the Word tells us, Jesus got up and went to the hills or a quiet spot apart and would commune with the Father before any of the days duties would press in on him. I see Jesus as the true human – what we are intended to become. A beautiful person – a person who is true. Jesus was a man as comfortable in nature, working with wood, or teaching a huge crowd. It all came from that daily source of power that resides in the Father. He was trying to teach us but we have often failed to comprehend it.

Where is your place of pilgrimage? Where do you go? Where does the energy return to you and you relate to all that is around you and in you?

Be Well…

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The Matter at Hand

The Matter at Hand

This is the follow-up to yesterday’s blog. Staying alert is an easy phrase to toss out there but the truth is – everyone is distracted. Very few people live deliberately anymore in our western society. Many people live as though they are impervious to the shocks and surprises of life. Life is difficult and if it hasn’t been for you count your blessings – it will be at some point.

The bible says, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13) Sadly the people that need to attend to this matter will probably not read this or will read it and think, “That is really good advice for someone else to think about.” Clearly God wants people to live with more attention to the relationship we have with each other, creation, and God. We unfortunately let many things flood our mind or selfishly make our plans without thinking about what God’s has planned for us.

This morning I received calls from a grieving father who’s daughter died unexpectedly and from a wife who’s husband has just died after an extended illness that came upon him when he was too young. If I could capture the attention of young adults and young parents and say to them, “Don’t get so caught up in busyness that you forget play. Don’t mix up God’s order. Too often we worship our work, work at our play, and just play at our worship.” Prioritize your relationship with God so that when the storms of life hit you are prepared. Attend to the matter at hand – the thing that is in front of you – the voice of God who says, “I want you to be mine for all time – stay close to me and I will be close to you.”

I spoke with a young man from Estonia the other day. He is in his twenties and was raised with no faith background but is searching and trying to understand who God is. His parents attended church, his grandparents attended church, but his generation is as he put it, “pretty much godless.” The U.S. is headed that way. I would just hate for people to have that wake up call and then find out that no one is on the other end of the line.

Be Well…

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Prepared

Prepared

It amazes me sometimes all the challenges friends and acquaintances have to face. I hear them talk, I read about their concerns on Facebook, and sometimes they ask me for prayer. Then there are those who blithely go from weekend to weekend planning, escaping, entertaining themselves with not thought of preparing for tragedy or calamity in their life. It as though they falsely believe they are impervious to life verities. There is no strong foundation, no thought of how they might handle the circumstances, no spiritual formation to help them face life and death’s realities. We see it in some of the YouTube videos and live streams where people seem to think they are in a video game where their actions have no consequences. It is epicurean of them to think that all they need to do is eat, drink, and be merry for who knows what the hell is going to happen next – live it up – pleasure is all we need to get along in life.

I think videos of all kinds have blurred the line between reality and entertainment. We can have reruns and bonus lives. The answer is something that people want to deny. Loss is real and we need a way to prepare for those losses. The Bible says, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Cor. 15:26) Death and loss are enemies of life and health and wellbeing. I have seen death and dying appear suddenly in the lives of families. Some have built a strong spiritual formation and have a strong community of support but many have gone through life unconscious of the possibility that this could happen to them.

They blindly think: “My children will grow up and I will die of old age”; “I will always have a job”; “My spouse will die before I will”; “If I just take care of myself my health will be fine.” This is not reality based thinking. Death and loss are enemies that we need to face. We can either face them with faith or denial. Think about how serious you are about building a spiritual foundation for yourself and your family before you desperately look for the missing tools you need one day.

More on this later.

Be Well…

 

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MOUNTAIN MAN

MOUNTAIN MAN

Maybe you have watched or heard of the TV show “Mountain Men.” It’s a History Channel program that follows the lives of several men who are truly iconoclastic in this technoconsumer world. One of the side characters, Preston Roberts, passed away on July 24, 2017. For over 30 years, he has lived in an old church located near Stone Mountain State Park in North Carolina and lived and worked some 90 acres adjoining Turtle Island, the preserve of Eustace Conway. What I liked about this teacher and naturalist was how he saw a synergy with nature. Learning from Native Americans and passing on skills and trades of the Mountain Peoples he lived a full life which was cut short by cancer. I believe he would say that it is not hard to simplify, you just do it one step at a time. His southern drawl and his uncomplicated speech were refreshing. He will be missed by his family and fans but especially by those he taught about living a more connected life.

We can all learn some lessons about connection as the world seems to separate and people cocoon in their cyber world. Sometimes the blogosphere seems too remote. Faith, family, friendship, time with loved ones is what truly matters. I feel like we can all take a page from Preston’s book of life and live more intentionally with nature around us. Rest in peace Preston Roberts.

Be Well….

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