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Currents Of Joy

Dead plant in pots

Dead plant in pots (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m changing the title of my blog from Connecting tha Dots to Currents of Joy.  Newer themes may reflect a difference in my points of view after years of struggle to reach a place of peace with where I am in this world.

The title comes from a book by Henri J.M. Nouwen, “Lifesigns“,  which our Little Fork couples group has just finished reading.

Here’s a quote: “Thus, celebration goes beyond ritual, custom and tradition. It is the unceasing affirmation that underneath all the ups and downs of life there flows a solid “current of joy“.

Last night was the point of change. A friend wrote that a Peace plant that I gave her several years ago had died after she’d been away from home for several weeks.

She felt sad, and I understood, but wrote back to say that the death was indeed sad, but the plant stood for much more which still remained. We could celebrate our friendship which is still alive!

At last, light at the end of the tunnel…God is love and there is no fear in love or change, even in the death of a Peace plant.

Accept Same-Sex Marriage, Or…?

Same-sex marriage counter protest at the anti ...

Same-sex marriage counter protest at the anti gay marriage rally (Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue)

Last week I wrote about a dilemma regarding same-sex relationships. One person wrote me saying that; 1. I was brave to speak out 2. He thinks that a lot of people feel the same way but aren’t expressing it.

I’m glad a lot of people didn’t jump on my “bandwagon”. That’s not why I wrote it.

I suspect these silent people aren’t easy to stereotype.  They aren’t people who demonstrate against or won’t associate with same-sex couples. I believe many of them, like me, may value gay teachers who teach our children well. Perhaps they are like Dan Cathy. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/01/chick-fil-a-ceo-and-gay-activist-are-now-friends/

We are also people of faith who simply believe in the biblical definition of traditional marriage and resist being forced by Federal Law into approving a lifestyle which violates a clear Biblical prohibition. This is not at all like slavery or equality of women which could be justified by implication from Scripture but which was later addressed:

Galatians 3:28

New International Version (NIV)

28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Of course, our country is made up of many people with diverse belief systems and it is not a Christian Theocracy. I don’t believe we should ban same-sex relationships as illegal, but as I listened today to pundits discussing the future of politics, and read yesterday about how politicians will have to “evolve” to affirm “Gay Marriage“, I sensed a chilling trend.

Won’t this mean that people with a desire to serve in politics and to bring about justice but who also hold Biblical convictions (often a morally steadying influence) may no longer be qualified for office because there will be a new litmus test…Endorsement of Same-Sex marriage?

I fault the religious right as much as the left for bringing us to this place in our society. How would Christ respond to couples in same-sex relationships? Certainly not like many Christians who have either avoided them in fear and confusion, demonstrated against them in our schools and organizations, or threatened and killed them. No wonder they are angry and feel the need to defend themselves legally.

I found the following article from the Witherspoon Institute, Public Discourse, describes quite well the pressures felt by people with Biblical convictions.  A quote from the article follows. I will appreciate your comments.

“Either the Supreme Court creates a new fundamental right to same-sex “marriage” or it preserves religious liberty.”

Marriage, Religious Liberty, and the Ban Myth | Public Discourse.

For discussion:

The American Black Males “Don’t” List…”Don’t Act Threatening”

How many of us white parents have instructed our young sons about the company they keep? How about driving too fast, keeping their grades up, and studying before watching TV or playing games?  Have you warned your son lately about the dangers of running with anything in his hand or running at all in public?

Trayvon Martin Protest - Sanford

Trayvon Martin Protest - Sanford (werthmedia)

I was very moved this morning, when I heard Jonathan Capehart on “Morning Joe” talking about the warnings he received as a young, black male close to Trayvon Martin’s age and earlier…these exact warnings, and others.

What an unimaginably perverse world these young African-American men, children really, live in, when 17 is as innocent as carrying Skittles and Iced Tea and rushing to get home for the NBA playoffs and as menacing as being pursued and killed by a “vigilant citizen”.

Our own adopted son, who is brown and a Pacific Islander, was well aware of the need to keep a low profile when he was driving, especially when he wore a baseball cap and drove his rusted out red(ish) car. “Mom, cops always pull over the black kid with the red car and baseball cap, even if they’re not doing anything.” (nor even Black…but simply “shaded” a beautiful brown).

He has been strong armed and attempts made, by clientele, to bar him from some “hangouts” in Ithaca, NY. Called “Black”, and most recently “Mexican”, the wonderful ability he has to identify with most of the rest of the world culturally, is seen as a flaw and a threat in white Western nations.

I marvel that we, his father and mother, who are white, can travel so many places in the Middle East and be welcomed into homes of strangers, yet our son has never felt welcomed in his adopted country.

What adds insult to injury in the Trayvon Martin case, is that the killer, though known, has not yet been arrested, but Trayvon’s body was held for three days while drug testing was done.

Some of you can’t imagine this happening to your sons, but I can, and so can thousands of other mom’s in the Western world: Mom’s of foreign, dark children; Mom’s of African-American kids; Mom’s of Muslim boys…the list goes on.

We make laws to prevent terror, but we remain terrified and suspicious of people unlike ourselves. I’ve learned this is true of non-whites as well. We truly cannot adequately step into another person’s shoes without intentionally changing course, and changing course feels like a betrayal to “our own”.

Some Americans continue looking the other way, telling me that racism is a thing of the past here.

Well, it’s not, nor will it be,  until extraordinary understanding and compassion have replaced fear and loathing in our hearts.

Under ‘suspicion’: The killing of Trayvon Martin – PostPartisan – The Washington Post.

Top Holocaust scholar blasts ‘Holocaust-abuse’ by U.S., Israeli politicians – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

holocaust memorial in kibbutz mishmar- haemek,...

Holocaust Memorial, Kibbutz Mishmar, Hemek, Israel

Holocaust-abuse”,  finally, a term, coined by someone who cannot be accused of being “anti-semitic”. Deborah Lipstadt, of all people, is not denying the Holocaust in her criticism.

We can’t know anyone’s heart but our own, but “anti-semitic” is a term often applied to anyone who criticizes Israeli policies, and this is one of the kinder terms.

I’m grateful that this invisible shield protecting Israel from criticism is breaking down.  I don’t harbor anti-Semitism in my heart, nor am I anti-Jewish.  As a Christian, I treasure the Holy Books of Judaism as part of my Biblical DNA.

All sane people know that the Holocaust did happen and was a horrible crime against humanity.

Israel claims to be the only Democracy in the Middle East.  The inevitability of freedom of speech and protest is a sign of a maturing Democracy. Movement towards reconciliation with the rest of the world requires breaking the pattern of fear that has haunted Israel for decades.

That our politicians would “pander” to the worst fears of the Israeli people is shameful.

Top Holocaust scholar blasts ‘Holocaust-abuse’ by U.S., Israeli politicians – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News.

Memo to Franklin Graham: Learn from Your Father

Billy Graham Franklin Graham Cleveland Stadium...

Image by escapedtowisconsin Franklin Graham with his father, Billy Graham

I was talking to a young ‘Staples‘ tech guy who was checking out my computer yesterday, and I asked him if he had heard of Franklin or Billy Graham. “Nope”, was his answer.

But, for those of you for whom these names are not, “irrelevant”, I write this.

Franklin Graham‘s accusation that The Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated our Government pushes my buttons.  I can’t find the source for his information. I’ve been searching and can’t find any hard evidence that this is true. I’m not saying it’s impossible just, “Where are the facts?”

There are many references to this on Blogs and Conservative websites, but I would expect Franklin and his followers to have higher standards.

Franklin’s accusations coincide with activity by Congressman Peter King from New York, who is opening investigations into ‘Muslim infiltration’ in the US, seeking terrorist connections with US Muslims who have not spoken out against alleged radicals.

In the meantime, King seems to expect us to ignore his own connections to the IRA, and apparently ignores United States official’s failure to speak out against other forms of terror perpetuated by many “friendly” countries, including Israel.

I’m an admirer of Franklin’s dad, Billy.  He used to be very conservative, and subsequently has  become more moderate in his thinking.  Many Conservatives haven’t forgiven him for leaving them, and Liberals won’t forgive him for “once” being Conservative.

He’s a hero to me; learning from his mistakes, growing more gracious as he ages, and now, preparing to meet his maker.

I wish that people like Peter King and especially Franklin would stop making baseless pronouncements without backing them up, (if anyone has solid evidence about The Muslim Brotherhood “infiltrating our government” and advising President Obama, please write in to let us know).

Franklin Graham could continue doing a good work in the world through ‘Samaritan’s Purse’; but he needs to understand that the world is listening to his words as well as observing his ‘deeds’.

His integrity is at stake, but more importantly, to some people in the world, his name and position represent God.




A Little Boy’s Fears

Grey Nurse Shark

Image by richard ling via Flickr

When the kids told our four year old grandson that his favorite neighbor, Lu, had died, his first question was, “How did she die?”.

His parents answered truthfully that they really didn’t know.

So, our grandson speculated, revealing perhaps, the fears in his little heart.

“Maybe a plane bonked her on the plane road”,  “Maybe a shark ate her”  or “Maybe a mean guy got into a fight with her”.

I don’t know how they answered him, but I wonder how this little child, who has been sheltered from TV, all forms of violence, all but a few select playmates, how does he know about airplanes that bomb, and mean men who get into houses?

When he comes to the beach this summer, I’ll understand why he’s so afraid to get near the ocean. He was delighted the other day when we took him to a sandy beach far from the water, “Yayyyy, a running beach!”

Somehow, he’s already picked up a fear of sharks and only plays in swimming pools.

As for airplanes that bomb, and mean men that enter houses, well, he’s not alone in that fear.

I’m thankful that our grandsons live far from a war zone, unlike many other little children who live where airplanes bomb and mean men do enter their homes and hurt their families.

I imagine little boys and girls all over the world have those fears, but they are very real ones from life experience.

By The Pool with Libyan ‘Terrorists’

Palace In Solo

Image by susan catherine via Flickr Mangunegaran Palace, Surakarta, Indonesia

It was April, 26, 1986 and the kids were practicing their dives in the hotel pool with their dad.  Our family was enjoying a vacation in Surakarta, Indonesia when four, young , Middle Eastern appearing men sat down next to our cabana, watching me intently as I sat in my lounge chair. My first thought was to be grateful because I was fully covered in my sarong, and not apt to offend them.

But my radar went up. This was an era of terror, and I was a mom discerning peril. You see, they were the first Middle Eastern people I had ever seen. I only knew the Middle East by reputation; to be honest, by prejudice.

To see young, Middle Eastern men without families in this sleepy little city where we spent our “down” time was surreal. That they were sitting next to me watching my children and husband swim was frightening to me. I had just read the following article in the English Newspaper that morning.

U.S. warplanes from Britain bomb Libya‘s Muammar al-Qaddafi‘s headquarters at Tripoli April 15 in an 11-minute strike that hits a few other sites and leaves 15 civilians dead, including some of Qadaffi’s children. President Reagan has ordered the attack in retaliation for the terrorist bombing of a West Berlin discothèque that killed a U.S. soldier and a Turkish woman and wounded 230. April 5, An American F-111 with two airmen is lost in the attack on Libya, and three hostages are killed in Lebanon in reprisal for the U.S. action.

Never in my life had I felt more danger than at this moment. I had very little knowledge of what was happening in the world. We were isolated in South East Asia where World News was scarce, American News non existent.

I was not naive nor unaware of the hatred that some Muslims had for Americans. In fact, when we arrived in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, my first thought on exiting the plane was that I would be shot in the head as I carried my baby Catherine down the steps.

Discerning and fearful yes, but timid, no. I decided to face my fears and initiate a conversation with these fellows…thinking at least by engaging them, I would become more than what I possibly appeared to them; a stranger, a foreigner, an American, an enemy.

But, how was I a Western woman, considered “loose” (I presumed from all I had heard) to bridge the enormous gap between our worlds?

Me:  “Hello.”

Guys: Nodding

Me: “Where are you from?”

Guys: “Libya.”

M: gulp, oh.

Libyan Guys: “You?”

M: “America.”

L Guys: Nodding,  “Yeh, yeh, yeh!” (as in, yeh, we thought so, had heard Americans were here, we want to kidnap you???)

M: “I’m so sorry about our country bombing your country, and killing Qadaffi’s little daughter.”(Thinking, gulp, did I just commit treason?)

L Guys: Instant softening, leaning toward me, “Oh, No, No, No, it’s not your fault, don’t worry,” “It’s not the American people we’re against, it’s just your Government.” “Governments are the problem, not the people.” “Same in our country.”

M: Whew!

(All of them immediately came over to our cabana as if we were old friends, I was soooo thankful I had my sarong!

The Libyan guys began telling me about their families… We exchanged names, I offered to pay for their lemonades, they thanked me profusely, but didn’t accept. Then the conversation turned to President Reagan’s current trip to Bali, Indonesia of which I was unaware.

The “boys” (possible Libyan terrorists) were excitedly telling me about the hotel President Reagan was to be staying in. They also told me all about the most recent security details of the roof of this hotel. I had become their friend and confidant.

My family came out of the pool, I introduced them to the boys by name, we shook hands all around and returned to our room. But, I was shaking and for the rest of the day kept my kids away from the windows of our room and didn’t let them answer our door.

We never saw the “boys” again during our vacation, but two days later, we heard that railroad tracks near the peaceful city of Surakarta had been blown up. Again, in this part of the world, at this time, a bombing was unheard of. Was this the work of my “boys”? Were they a terror cell, saboteurs, or even worse, suicide bombers…a word I think I had never heard before.

In subsequent years, a friend from the State Department told me that I should have reported this encounter…to someone. My thought at the time was entirely for my family. I was confident that President Reagan would be protected.

Now, I know what to do if I am ever again privy to the secret plans of a possible terrorist cell. Were they terrorists? I’ll never know, but I do know that these boys met an American family who treated them kindly while they were visiting Surakarta, Indonesia a long, long time ago.