The Opposite of Faith

Saw this on Facebook today and it got me to thinking. In the past I have heard it said that fear was the opposite of faith. I somewhat resonate with that idea. Yet I resonate more with the idea that control is the antithesis of faith.

It reminds me of the old religious saying "Let go and let God". Hard words for a control freak like me. In reality ceding control has been a lifelong struggle. Fear causes the best of us to struggle trying to control uncontrollable things.

This is where many of us struggle to live a life filled with faith. To "let go" often means to confront the fear of things spinning out of control. It causes us to try to control our kids, our spouses, our future and things too big to control.

As we age, we come to understand how little we truly control. In response our prayers become less about control and more about trusting God when prayers are unanswered. Perhaps it is simply releasing control to God?

What is a Patriot?

I think that this quote from President Kennedy symbolizes what it means (to me) to be a patriot. Here is a comment that I recently left on the topic.
Patriotism is largely defined by sacrifice. Taxes in part can be a way that patriots sacrifice to help fellow citizens. Donating to charity can be another way.
Here are a few quotes about patriots and patriotism with my commentary.

There is much more to being a patriot and a citizen than reciting the pledge
or raising a flag. -Jesse Ventura
I am so tired of folks calling others patriots because of what they think rather than how they have served and sacrificed for our country.
A real patriot is the fellow who gets a parking ticket and rejoices that the system works. -Bill Vaughan
This is funny but somewhat embraces the idea that we are accountable to each other.
The patriot's blood is the seed of Freedom's tree. -Thomas Campbell
The voluntary sacrificial service of non-career soldiers epitomizes the concept of patriotism.
These are just a few thoughts to get a dialog started. How do you define patriot?

Celebrating My Valentine

Today I am remembering how God brought Ann into my life. We celebrated our first Valentines Day 21 years ago today. It was the day that I asked her to be my wife and we became engaged to be married. In many ways Ann was nothing like what I expected in a woman but in every way she was exactly the woman of my dreams. Our courtship was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I experienced levels of joy that had escaped me for so long. Ann made me feel so young and alive. I had such little understanding of how much of a blessing she would be. Over the years I have seen her exhibit amazing perseverance. It is humbling to witness how she deals with disability.

You know it was funny how Ann and I met all over again. We had been acquainted for almost 20 years but had not seen each other for about five years. One day we, by chance, ran into each other in front of The Dime Store in Kansas City where she was shopping and I was just happening by. I wrote this poem at the onset of our courtship.

Love at Second Sight

What drew me to her I do not know.
Spirit? Soul? Flesh? A mystery to me still.
On that day I saw her again ... for the very first time.
Could this be love ... at second sight?

That day was bright ... my heart was dark.
Her skin was fair ... my soul was heavy.
A spark ignited and my spirit soared.
Could this be love ... at second sight?

The summer passed and fall had come.
My mind wandered still to that that day in June,
When my heart was touched by her lovely smile.
Could this be love ... at second sight?

As grief passed and courage grew,
I saw her again and then I knew ...
That my heart longed to know her heart.
Could this be love ... at second sight?

Mourning exchanged for joy.
Loneliness turned into happiness.
Feelings I can neither explain nor express.
Could this be love ... at second sight?

Time goes on and passion grows.
Where we'll go ... who really knows.
My heart and my mind yet question still ...
Could this be love ... at second sight?

I echo the words of that poem today. Ann brings me such joy! God has blessed me with a wife that is a servant in the best sense of serving. A woman who's inner beauty and integrity are matchless. A woman who loves God.

Just call me blessed!

Am I a Blue Dog?

I first posted this question on January 29, 2010. Six years later I still resonate with much of what I wrote then.
Consider what I recently posted in a comment.
I am no socialist but I am grateful for our democratic socialist programs that care for the poor and the elderly. I told a friend last week that I wish programs like Medicare and Social Security were/are not needed. I wish more charitable people and decent insurance companies existed. In the end it is not an either/or proposition for me. I would love to see the private sector step forward and reduce the need for big govt programs. I am not sure what is preventing people from doing so.

In our town we help a clinic that cares for the poor, a Christian homeless shelter, a group that provides bus passes to people needing to go on job interviews as well as other more traditional ministries. The opportunities are out there if we simply look for them.
So I think that the Blue Dog moniker is still somewhat descriptive of my views. What about you?

Ever heard the term "Blue Dog Democrat" and wonder where the term came from? According to the wiki:
Former Texas Democrat Rep. Pete Geren is credited for coining the term, explaining that the members had been "choked blue" by "extreme" Democrats from the left.
The wiki also describes them like this:
The Blue Dog Coalition describes itself as a group of moderate-to-conservative Democrats committed to financial and national security, favoring compromise and bipartisanship over ideology and party discipline.
I like that description and wonder if I am a Blue Dog. I am in favor of those aspects.. I am a huge believer in financial security if it means balancing the budget and paying down the national debt. I think that we should be have a strong national security policy. I think that compromise is not a bad word. I think that ideology and party discipline are not bad but I think the lack of bipartisan governance has created a cynicism in our nation.

So maybe I am a Blue Dog. Albeit a Blue Dog Independent. I do feel that the extremes have choked me blue. :)

What do you think?  Are extremes in politics, religion and life choking you blue?

Is Healthcare a Moral Issue?

Responding to the recent court events in Florida that declared federal healthcare legislation unconstitutional, Joe Scarborough, conservative host of Morning Joe on MSNBC, said this:
"Anybody that goes to an emergency room at 11 o'clock at night and sees the people who have to use that as their primary care providers, it shows two things: the inefficiency and the immorality of the system... There are two Americas when it comes to healthcare -- and it is immoral."
It got me to thinking and wondering if healthcare should be classified as a moral issue? Also caused me to ponder that old overused phrase "you cannot legislate morality". Of course we in America absolutely do legislate morality. The issue is what ideological morality are we legislating. So I think that the answer to the question will be different depending on what ideology you might embrace.

Many years ago congress passed Social Security legislation and years later Medicare was passed. The morality of these seemed to embrace the idea that people in their senior years should be cared for by our country. Later on people with disabilities were added to the roles of those covered by these two programs.

So, when I think about the 11pm emergency room scenario that Joe speaks of, I wonder if there is a moral reason to add other folks to the ranks of Medicare. Remember that legislation both reflects and defines America's morality. And it seems to me that our laws should reflect a consistent morality. Possibly the poorest amongst us should be covered by Medicare for the same reasons that seniors are covered.

Do you think healthcare is a moral issue? Please let me know why you think that it is or isn't.

... originally posted February 2, 2011

Groundhog Day Q&A

To celebrate the day try answering these:

1) How many times have you seen it?
2) How many stars (out of 10) would you give it?
3) What is your favorite part of the movie?

My answers are in the comments.

... originally posted in 2010

Listening to People in Pain

Today I recommend you to a post by Presbyterian minister Adam S. McHugh. Here are a few excerpted highlights.
Few things shut down a person in pain faster than quoting the
Bible at them. ... I don’t like saying this, but it has been my experience that Christians are often worse at dealing with people in pain than others with different beliefs. ... Dietrich Bonhoeffer lamented the same thing: “Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking when they should be listening.”
A hurting person is in a storm. They are cold, wet, shivering, and scared. Preaching, platitudes, and advice will not get them out of the storm. Don’t tell someone in a storm that it’s a sunny day. There will likely come a day when the clouds part, but it is not today. It’s not your job to pull them out of the storm. It’s your job to get wet with them.
There is no getting around the fact that a Christian community is one that suffers. The pioneer of our faith suffered, the main symbol of our tradition is one of agony and death, and there is no use trying to remove the cruciform marks from the hands and feet of the church. The mark of the gospel is not health and wealth, but nails and blood. The good news is that a Christian community is one that suffers together.
Listening to people in pain is about giving them room to grieve and weep and rage and doubt. We’re not there to spiritualize their pain or theologize their experience. ... We are on the wrong track when we diminish the emotions that people are feeling. ... The reason why we have a hard time hearing the doubts and faith questions of others is because it provokes our own unacknowledged doubts.
I found the post from this hospice chaplain to be one of the best on the topic. Read it in full here.