Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Trying to make sense out of where we are

I am trying to make sense of where we are.

We, as a society, have watched videos of executives discussing the price of tissue and organs from aborted babies. We have seen footage of dead babies being dissected on pie plates and heard testimony of clinic workers talk about what happens in the dissection room (do it 'less crunchy' if you are going for a brain) and the name given to the room where the dead baby parts were stored—the nursery. We have seen all of this and have felt outraged that the tissue of pre-born babies could be mishandled and treated in such a disrespectful way. This was NOT about abortion, but about the disrespect given for the remains of a pre-born baby that died through abortion. We believed there should be a special, dignified protocol for how these tiny bodies are disposed of. Cutting and slicing just seems so callused and cold.

We’ve seen a grand jury convene to see if an indictment could be made against these practices, only to see the grand jury indict NONE of the practitioners, instead charges were made against the individuals who made the video. Felony charges have been made against the film makers. 

We have watched as the events of Benghazi, Libya the night of 9/11/12 have been uncovered, and understand that our government made no attempt to rescue those caught in the attacks. We understand that the ONLY reason most of the government workers are alive today is because a few brave men went against stand down orders and rushed in to the battle. We have witnessed high ranking government officials say we do not understand what happened, and that what the survivors of Benghazi said happened, didn’t really happen. We are told to believe those who were safely tucked away in DC rather than those who were on the ground during that time.

We’ve watched several groups rise in popularity; one publicly ridiculed and one esteemed by media and government officials. One group has a record of destroying property and encouraging violence and murder in some cases (burn the town down—Michael Brown; fry ‘em up like pigs in a blanket—Black Lives Matter). One group leaves the property cleaner than it was when they arrived (with permits paid for and in place) and one group descending on public places (with no permits), taking over the spaces and stopping business (Occupy Wall Street BLM protests), often requiring cleanup crews to come in after they leave. At times there has been so much destruction business have to be shut down for a time (BLM Ferguson and Baltimore).

One group is scorned by the president (a bunch of ‘tea baggers’) and the other group is referred to as people who need to be heard; people who are legitimately frustrated. One official said the group, BLM, needed space to do their destruction without interference by the police. The destroyers needed a safe space. When we have questioned why the groups are treated so differently, we are told we are racist.

We see an obvious white woman claim she is Native American and has been awarded entrance into graduate programs based on her minority status. We see another white woman pretend (with success) to be a black woman. When it was revealed she was being dishonest, there were no consequences; we were told ‘race is fluid’ and she identifies as a black woman. At the same time we saw a man receive the ‘Woman of the Year’ award. A rich, white man, who was able to purchase body parts, was able to pay for doctors to ‘remodel’ his body, so he could pretend he is a woman. When we laugh at that and say he is still a HE, we are told we are hateful, bigoted fools.

Now we see the phenomena of a progressive, big business, crony capitalist running as a conservative…and a large number of evangelicals and tea party people are supporting him. When we ask ‘what about the Constitution?’ we hear ‘let’s not worry about that’ or are told we are in the tank for the establishment and we need someone who will just 'get things done'. 

We are told which words we may and may not use to describe gender. We are being told we must have ‘safe spaces’ where NO offensive, disagreeable words can be said. We are told guns are evil and do harm, regardless of how they are purchased (or procured) and regardless of who has the weapon in their hand.

Healthcare became a public issue. The cost and difficulty of getting insurance became jurisdiction of the federal government. We were told we could keep our doctor if we were happy with that doctor, only to find out we could not keep that doctor if that doctor wasn’t approved by the insurance company. 

Marriage has also became jurisdiction of the federal government. Instead of the individual States determining what works best in their particular state, the government took over marriage. With that, small business owned by people with a proven, consistent, firmly held faith convictions and practices, are told they may not practice those convictions anymore, in order to comply with the federal governments determination of what marriage is, and what faith practices are allowed in the public sphere. Small business owners are now mandated to participate in wedding ceremonies that go against their individual faith practice. One practice takes precedent over another, all at the whim of the federal government. The restraint of the Constitution is disregarded by four judges, and our congress has no reaction.

We are told unemployment is way down and the economy is doing well while a majority of us are juggling our dollars so we can purchase food, pay the rising electric bill, high insurance premiums and, in many households, working two or more jobs just to make ends meet. We are thankful for the reprieve of lower gas prices (while we hear the president take credit for it) and know that the lower prices is a result of very world-changing BAD things happening in the Middle East.

We watch as it is discovered that a rich, white women with obvious 'privilege' that is usually scorned by the progressives, has unlawfully and carelessly used a private computer to send and receive classified, and in some cases, higher than 'top secret' information. We hear her defenders say things like the emails were not labeled 'classified' as an excuse. At the same time we have seen a general, a high ranking general who served our country honorably, punished for a more minor offense in his handling of classified material. He is now in the position of perhaps having his status of Four Star General removed, but,so far no action has been taken against the rich white woman. We are told we can't believe what evidence suggests...much like Benghazi. Our questions, once again, prove we are hateful people who are ONLY out to make political points, rather than thinking adults who want to know the truth and want to know that we still have a Rule of Law, where we are equal under the law.

We read and watch reports of ‘isolated incidents’ of refugees and those in our country illegally commit crimes. Young women are murdered and the man who is accused is found to have been arrested and charged several times, but was not deported because our government has taken a 'stand down' approach to the matters involving this population. 

When there are obvious Jihadi attacks, we hear our leaders tell us those are ‘lone wolves’ or 'work place violence' incidents and have nothing to do with Islam or terrorism. We watch in horror as European cities are falling apart under the pressure of hundreds of thousands of refugees entering, and are told we are Islamophobic and hateful if we question whether we should take a pause in allowing more refugees into our country until we can get a grip on what is happening. We sit by helplessly as we hear this administration tell us we are taking more, and find out our towns and cities have already received thousands, and our governors were not even aware of it.

We have watched those that have been elected because of their pledge to be consistently conservative and to hold our party leaders accountable, fall in line with the established power in DC. We witness the corruption and are told those FEW who stand by their word and commitment to the Constitution and we who support them are 'extremists'.

Do we have a standard anymore? Does the Constitution have a place in our government anymore? What kind of country are we becoming, and what kind of government are we supporting?

Is anyone else worried about our country? I just cannot make sense of it. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Principles and values and elections

We are seeing popular movements rise up because of a lack of government response to what is seen as problems. Occupy Wall Street, the Tea Party, Black Lives Matter and the Bundy/Oregon militia are a cross section that reflect the notion that people are looking for someone, anyone, who will STAND up and 'get things done'. Of course, get things done the way each group believes is best.

As I watch a wave of support growing for one such strong leader, I have to ask what the principles and values are that lead so many ‘conservatives’ and Tea Party members to support a candidate who so clearly is not a small government, anti-establishment, liberty loving practitioner?

The Tea Party was ORIGINALLY ignited because of the bank bailouts, the auto bailouts and the stimulus. The Tea Party first pointed their finger NOT at President Obama, but President Bush.

The intent behind the 9/12 projects and Tea Parties were those values and principles that had zero to do with political parties and candidates, but spoke to how we, as individuals lived our lives and expected our government to operate. Principles that respected the Constitutional responsibility of the State and the limits placed on the federal government. Principles and values that we said were our 'bottom line'.

Small government, adherence to the Constitution, and self-responsibility were central to those principles and values that would guide us in how we pick candidates, elect our representatives, senators, city council and school board members, judges, sheriffs, and presidents. Core principles and values we lived our lives by.

 We experienced true ‘change’ elections, only to be disappointed that so many of our ‘conservative’ candidates turned out to be JUST like the rest of the ‘good old boy’ club that did not practice small government, liberty loving, constitutionally based actions.

Today we are nearing another ‘choosing place’.

A strong, brash leader may, indeed, be able to walk into board rooms and say 'DO THAT or YOU ARE FIRED'. A strong leader may, indeed, make billions of dollars and even make trade and tariff decisions that ‘gets the other guy’ (whether that is China or Mexico or anyone else that we think needs to be ‘got’). The strong leader can say over and over again, ‘we will do it’; ‘we will build it and they will pay for it’…and the crowd cheers.

Don't we need to ask how these things will be accomplished? DOES the 'means' justify the 'ends'? Is that important to us? What is it that guides the potential strong leaders? What is their individual guide for making decisions? To what standard do they guide their actions in order to accomplish their goals? To what end does their actions lead? A bigger, more powerful federal government that has fiscally and maybe even socially conservative practices, or, are they guided by an old, time-tested, foundational document our country has used as the basis for our Law?

For those who consider themselves conservative, does it matter if the government tramples on the rights of 'those guys' in order to get to our stated goals? Is it OK for the government to take land away from private landowners so that a 'good' big business can accomplish something we think needed for the community? Does the community or government get to decide what is best, or, do individual rights matter equally and protect, even when the community/government disagrees? For those of us called conservatives are those ideals still a core value?

Has conservative turned into the mere opposite of liberal on the pole of big government?  Is the ONLY difference between conservatives and liberals the kind of programs we support, rather than bigger government vs smaller, constitutionally based government?

Is liberty for ALL still a conservative value?? Do we still support the lone voice as much as we do the voice of the masses? Does an individual still have the same rights and protections as the majority?

Remember your values and principles when you are making these caucus and primary decisions. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The notion of grace

It is interesting that even among Believers, the most common notion of Who God is centers around sin and forgiveness.
We all know about forgiveness and we call that 'grace', but grace is SO much more than forgiveness. It is so much more that I find it is something I have to keep thinking about, because the 'knowing it' is so big and so deep...it seems we are so accustomed to punishment and rules and the never ending cycle of trying to 'do better' that the idea of standing in grace is foreign to so many of us (me for sure).
Grace reverses the Law. Instead of me saying 'I will do it, I will try harder and harder and I will do it', God says 'I will help you do it because you can NOT do it alone.
How the world would change if we all could fathom that. How I would change if I could let that sink down to the deepest part of me, that part that is always quick to say 'dummy, you failed AGAIN'. God never says that. He says 'come on and let Me help and let others help, because Sherri you need Me and you need others.'
It seems the 'utopia' we are looking for is a 'standing and living IN grace community' where we REALLY are brothers and sisters and we REALLY do care about each other.
I am looking forward to living there! So, come quickly, Lord Jesus...and in the meantime, help us find AND TO BE the loving community You desire for us