Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Shutdown Juxtaposition

In last Sunday's Houston Chronicle I came across two stories in the front page section that caused a double-take. The first was an article about the Miss Universe pageant that discussed how the Muslim extremists in Indonesia caused the pageant organizers to modify the swimsuit portion of the competition by intimidation and threats of violence. Now I really do not care much about the Miss Universe pageant and what kind of swimsuits they compete in. But I found myself reacting strongly against the notion that one group of people should bully another to get their way. The second article was about the Tea Party Republicans and their efforts to intimidate the Senate Democrats into making certain decisions to "change the rules" related to the Affordable Care Act with threats of economic violence and government shutdown. While I am no fan of the new healthcare law, the Tea Party's actions seem indistinguishable from those of the Muslim extremists. Does the Tea Party not see this?

I almost feel bad for John Boehner. He is trying to hold together a political party where a substantial minority have forgotten what it means to govern in a multi-faceted context. Is there a way to overturn the Affordable Care Act? Sure there is. Win enough seats in Congress--both houses--and repeal the law. On the other hand, since the Act is law, then the Tea Party should either work to negotiate changes, pass new legislation, or develop a message that resonates with the American people--not just their own small group of constituents.

In our republic each individual must sometimes set aside what she or he prefers in order to advance the greater good of the whole. I may not like very spending decision made by Congress or the state legislature, but I must still pay my taxes; some of which go to support programs and tasks that I support and some that do not. In any healthy relationship, there is give and take--not take it or leave it!

I do wish that political conservatives would understand two things. First, what goes around comes around. Can you imagine the outcry if the roles were reversed? Second, no one likes, or will support, a bully who intimidates and threatens to get their way.

Perhaps there is a need or an opening for a conservative party that also understands civility and what it measn to govern across political, economic, and cultural boundaries. The Republican Party in October of 2013 doesn't seem to grasp these concepts.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Shift in Focus

Readers of this blog may notice a change to the tagline. A couple of things are driving that change. First, I am finding that I cannot think good thoughts while I am riding--too many other things to be attentive to. Second, I am finding the notion of authentic living to be interesting and challenging--perhaps worth investing some time and reflection on. At some level, I hope that this blog has always been about authenticity. But I want to sharpen the focus, and aliong the way, sharpen my thinking and actions in this area.

As a starting point, what is authenticity? Should I/we try to "be" authentic? And if we have to be authentic are we really authentic? Are there limits to where authenticity is beneficial in relationships? Work? Faith communities? Is there such a thing as too much authenticity?

I am looking forward to embracing and wrestling with the questions.

Pressing on!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Reflecting on Emma's Passing

My dear friend Dan,

There are no words--quite simply no words in and of themselves--that can contain a parent's grief; that can soothe the unthinkable; that can answer all (or really any) of the inevitable questions; that can offer what you may need. I wish I could be there--not to say anything, but just to be present with you. That would be the best that I could offer you.

But there is presence behind some words. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous cry out and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. All things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose. Blessed are those that mourn, for they will be comforted. The presence behind these words give them their power. There is no power or real comfort in the words alone, but in the One who spoke the words--who speaks the words.

You have reminded me often that the One who speaks these words is worth listening to. That He has something worthwhile to say. And you have been right. You still are--His words are backed by His power and His peace passes understanding. I certainly do not understand how it works, but we both trust the One who says that it does--that He does.

Pain is a bullhorn that shouts something. I can only imagine that your current pain may feel like it is shouting loss and despair and emptiness. Those things are real, but they are not everything. What if your pain today is also a pointer to something good and hopeful--that this life is not all that there is; that our future life with God is even more real and valuable and desirable than what we temporarily have in the here and now.

As Dads, we spend so much time providing and protecting, and I do know--in some measure--how it feels when our best efforts seem to come for naught. When we feel unable to provide or protect. Over the past few months I have wrestled with how God fits in this picture and my conclusion has been that I am not God, but He is. It is not my universe, it is His. I cannot draw out good results from tragedy, but He can. I cannot offer peace that passes understanding, but He does.

I am glad that you have lots of people who can be physically present with you. You all have invested in others through the years--time, energy, prayers. In this season, you have the opportunity to allow others to be for you what you have been for them--and I hope that you will feel as supported and blessed as you have made others feel.

I love you my friend and will continue to pray for and lift you all up from afar. Let's talk again soon!