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Bono on the difference between Grace and Karma


Resistance & Renewal

Bono_on_Bono_Cover“It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma…

You see, at the centre of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you; an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics – in physical laws – every action is met by an equal or opposite one.  Its clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe.  I’m absolutely sure of it.

And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “As you reap, so will you sow” stuff.  Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news…

View original post 286 more words

Points of Light


Each Christmas season we hang a star exactly like the one in the picture outside on our porch. At the end off each point is a tiny hole where the light shines through. It’s at it’s best if there are no other lights visible around it. We usually keep it burning all night long through the Christmas season. It is especially stunning on the darkest nights.

Moravian Star

Moravian Star (Photo credit: Urban Sea Star)

When our students have asked us its significance we’ve explained that it is a “Moravian Star”, a symbol of the Moravians who took Jesus’ Love to all points of the earth. Each point of the star represents the light of His love.

When I began writing this blog three years ago I wasn’t interested in writing an “inspirational” blog filled with verses and positive advice nor anything remotely home oriented. Nor could I write theology very adeptly.

I was mostly interested in Politics, International Affairs, Justice and Faith and telling the truth about life as I saw it. I imagined reaching into several countries where this particular type of blog might be of interest to someone. Little did I guess how many people might share my interests. At this point I have readers from 123 different countries and every state in the USA.

I am most honored to have readers from countries where I have lived and visited: Indonesia, The Philippines, UK, France, Holland, Singapore, Ecuador, Tunisia, Palestine, and Israel. I’m thrilled that people are reading my blog inside Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria and Syria where I may never visit! I like to think this blog is a bit of a Moravian Star for them, shining into their dark nights!

What a responsibility I feel to shine brightly and wisely.

All in all, over thirteen thousand people have taken a peek at the words written here, reminding me of the responsibility I have before God to represent my faith and beliefs with integrity.

Possibly, one reason people read this blog is to find out one American’s perspective on the happenings in the world.  Perhaps they come here expecting one thing and leave with a little different impression. I’d like to think so.  I love to think that my views might make a difference in someone’s life. Who knows?

Since my faith is very important to me, I usually write about current events through the lens of faith. I suspect this appeals to people who also find faith important. I hope my writing reflects how much I love and honor God and Christ.

I wish I were a better writer, but I write simply and frankly. It may come from many years of living overseas and teaching ESL, trying to make myself understood effectively and efficiently. I have little patience with “wordiness” when I can get to the point immediately.

So,  I want to thank everyone who reads my blog, despite its many shortcomings. You warm my heart and fuel my soul! Please, write in and let me know about yourselves. Thanks!

I wish you rich blessings in the New Year, 2013!

Religion Disappearing: What About Faith?


Religious symbols from the top nine organised ...

Symbols of the 9 Major World's Religions

Some may be alarmed to hear about an article I read today claiming that religious affiliation is waning in at least 9 countries of the world.

Even though I am not very comfortable with traditional religion, I do find comfort in gathering together with other people of my faith. I feel a lingering sadness when I learn that the next generation (or this one) doesn’t have access to this form of community, and perhaps is missing a personal connection with God.

However, I believe that religion and faith are two separate matters.

Please, read the following article. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12811197

Freedom, Faith and Politics


Photo taken of the main sign of Gettysburg Col...

Getttysburg College

Yesterday, I read in the comments section of a liberal, American website, “we should get rid of all conservatives, then our country will be just fine”. This is fairly common.

In a typical pattern, a second writer will agree, then eventually, someone will weigh in to bring the comments back to earth with a reminder of  Lenin, Stalin and the “Group Think” of Nazi Germany.

A similar pattern develops on many conservative websites, though most conservatives don’t want to kill liberals, they want to legislate them.

Neither solution appeals to me.

There are many countries where religion is “legislated”, and many religions that require a lot of work to get in a “good place” to pacify their higher power.

It makes no sense to me why American Christians (many of the conservatives) would want to legislate morality, when the foundation of their faith is freedom.  John Meacham, former editor of Newsweek, spoke about the place of faith/religion in public life in this address at Gettysburg College in 2008.

John Meacham, Editor of Newsweek, Addresses

Gettysburg College

By: Madeline Shepherd

Jon Meacham, editor of Newsweek, visited Gettysburg College on April 11 for the 11th Annual Blavatt Lecture sponsored by the Eisenhower Institute.  His latest publication, bestseller The American Gospel, formed the basis of his discussion on Friday, “God and Politics: From George Washington to George W. Bush.”

Having toured the campus, Meacham first addressed students and faculty in the afternoon prior to his lecture.  Members of the audience asked questions regarding religion in the current elections, the objectivism of Newsweek, and the overall role of the media in today’s political arena.

Meacham talked at length about the importance of religious liberty in American society, but also about different interpretations of religious liberty as they emerge among politicians.

“You cannot be for religious liberty for people that think like you think and not for everybody,” he noted when discussing fundamentalism. Continue reading

The new phase


Now I’ve  done it! I shared my story about healing prayer with one of the fellows from Africa. Who would have guessed his response would have been to stare intently into my eyes and after a few minutes ask me if he could learn about it.

He has been married since 2006 and seldom been together with his wife. She will be joining him soon, for a “honeymoon” of sorts, and…

We’ve set up a tentative date before she comes, and as I walked up the stairs, I wondered if perhaps, this was the beginning of a new phase of life, set in place when I prayed that prayer a few years ago. The prayer that catapulted me from rejection to freedom in the blink of an eye.

I can hope that I will be a helper to the African as my friend helped me. A guide, to set the frame in which Jesus will appear.

No more.

Unscrupulous Characters I Have Known


I  remember the look of horror on my friend’s face when I introduced her to an elderly man in our village in Indonesia and afterwards  told her that she had just shaken hands with a man who was famous for slitting the most throats of anybody in our area during the Communist Coup of 1968.

This came to my mind today as I was making plans to gather clothing and household items from our garage and take them over to one of our refugee contacts before winter sets in. I had agreed to help him sponsor a relative who has been in the refugee camps in Thailand with his young family for years and needs our help to get out.

There has been a delay and the stuff has filled our garage for over a year. It recently it occurred to me that we could free up all this space simply by storing it with him. Brilliant!

Why did I think of him and the throat slitter in the same moment? Because I know background on this man to qualify him for sexual harassment, slander and more. Not a killer, at least not here in the US, but I’ve suffered through story after story from reliable witnesses. And yet, I help him.

Others we help have hurt and offended the rest of their ethnic community, and we are the only ones who speak to them.

Just last weekend, we heard about an emotional wound from thirty years ago, at first it oozed out slowly and then poured out in an uncontrollable torrent. The victim, unknown before that day; The perpetrator, a gentle friend, or so we thought, unforgiven, remembered as a controller and emotional abuser.

I’m sure I can add to my list, in fact I think of another fellow; The old man who was always inviting me into his barn when I was a little girl.

The surly secretary( his wife) of my kind Chiropractor’s who sat at the door of  his office and put everyone through the misery before we went in to be treated.

The unknown Beca driver who arrived on our doorstep in Indonesia, late at night, asking for a place to sleep. We found out later his wife had disappeared under suspicious circumstances(perhaps murdered). I locked him in the bedroom in the back of the house off the kitchen that night.

JW, another  young man, unknown to us, with bloody scratches all down his face who arrived on our American doorstep shortly after we had completed our new guest room, asking for a place to stay the night. Giving us sketchy references (he had been staying in a friend of a friend’s room, peeing in her sink) and was now on the run from the police, turning himself in tomorrow because he had assaulted her!

After placing some phone calls to clarify the situation, we took him to our new guest room with the brand new soft flowered sheets. I had dedicated those sheets, nicer than we slept on ourselves, for whomever God chose to bring along as our “guest”! I knew JW with his bloody, scratched face, was the one God had chosen to christen those sheets! But, what a test of my committment!

The next morning, JW did indeed turn himself in to the police. We read in the local newspaper that he gave our address as his home.

Of course, I’ll never forget the four Libyan men whom we met sitting around the pool at our hotel one afternoon in Java. Frankly, scared to death, since the USA had just bombed their leaders’ home and killed one of his children and I was sure Americans’ weren’t their favorite people, I grabbed the bull by the horns and began a conversation with them. As we sat watching my three little American kids swimming back and forth, they proceeded to assure me that they were only angry at our Govt. not the people of our country, and then to describe in detail the security arrangements for then President Reagan’s housing on the Island of Bali in an upcoming trip.

Did I say, I was Freaked OUT? Later that week, some railroad tracks were bombed by “foreign” nationals, (of course I felt I knew who they were). Reagan visited Bali and left with no “events”, but later friends in the State Department told me I should have reported our conversation.

And finally, the arms dealer, just confirmed last weekend. Whenever I asked sweet Sylvie her father’s profession, she would give me a number of evasive answers. One evening over dinner, he shared stories about the guards stationed on each floor of the North Korean Hotel where he happened to be staying. Red flag!

No questions asked, no answers given. We offered hospitality without knowing our guests’ politics or predilections.

Perhaps this prepared me for boldly wading into discussions with people of differing beliefs and political persuasions. After rubbing shoulders with petty criminals, world class outlaws, and potential terrorists, I find regular people who disagree with me to be quite interesting, charming and safe!

Sometimes people say to me, defensively it seems, “I have a right to my opinion” when they disagree with something I’ve said! I don’t know if they feel that everyone has to agree with them..They’ll never know,  how much room there is in my world for philosophical disagreement.

I’m just relieved they aren’t terrorists!

Discussing the benefits of Stoning


Sitting on the sofa, in our campus neighborhood, baby on his blanket giggling happily between us, the conversation turned to Sharia Law.

“It would be so much better for the Taliban to be in charge in our country than for the Warlords to take over, because the War Lords are Savages”, her husband said from certain knowledge I didn’t need to question.

“At least the Taliban have a law that is unified through out. They do not act on their own, But rather on God’s Law. That is best by far. When you have a system, like here in the USA, a system with law and order, it is at least a good one. But in our country there is NO law unless you enforce the law of God.

The Warlords on the other hand are without God’s Law, they are a law unto themselves. They stop people on the roads, rape and steal from them, demanding all of their goods on a whim.  You don’t have that with the Taliban.” He says it as though it is settled.

“But the stoning!” I say, certain that I’ve brought up a point that he’ll consider and agree is too extreme.

“Only for Adultery“, he clarifies,  “only for married women, and men,” he adds.

Surprisingly, the wife who has sat silently says something in their native language. Under her breath as usual.

“What did she say?” I ask, because I feel complete freedom with them and her.

“She says, “It is fair, because there is no excuse for a married person to commit adultery. It is your choice to marry someone.

Why would you then be unfaithful to that partner? It is a deterrent to adulterous behavior”.

“Is it?” I ask, as I look down at her little innocent baby, amazed that I am involved in this conversation.

“Yes, it is a very good deterrent”, they answer nodding.

“If anyone survives,” I say, “do people survive?”

“If anyone survives, yes, some do”.

The husband then tells me the story of the now famous scene we all have seen on our TV screens where we see a woman in a veil kneeling in the stadium in Kabul and where she is killed in front of a jeering crowd. I’ve forgotten if she is stoned.

The background information is that she arranged to have her husband killed by her boyfriend so that she could then marry him.

This is the story behind her severe punishment. To my friends, it was perfectly logical to be  punished for such a terrible betrayal.

Again, I glance down at the little baby with the very beautiful Arab nose and think how many light years I am from this culture’s assumptions and way of thinking.