Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The stupid is strong on Facebook!

It happens every few years.  A Facebook status goes around saying the following:

"Better safe than sorry is right. Channel 11 News was just talking about this change in Facebook's privacy policy. Better safe than sorry. As of September 27th at 09:30 p.m. Eastern standard time, I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or posts, both past and future. By this statement, I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308- 1 1 308-103 and the Rome Statute). NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this. If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement atleast once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as the information contained in the profile status updates. DO NOT SHARE. You MUST copy and paste."

This time, it's been paired with the following status:  

"Now it's official! It has been published in the media. Facebook has just released the entry price: £5.99 to keep the subscription of your status to be set to "private". If you paste this message on your page, it will be offered free (I said paste not share)." 

Some versions of the above statuses are, "Channel 13 News was just talking about this change," and "Facebook has just released the entry price:  $5.99 to keep your status 'private'."

It sounds so official.  There's just one problem:  It's not true.

The hoax-busting site Snopes.com has debunked this rumor many, many times.  If, for whatever reason, you don't trust Snopes, check here, and here, and here.  Or, Google "Facebook privacy hoax" and see the number of links that come up.  At last search, there were nearly 140 news articles covering this story, and I'm sure the number will be climbing.  

Yesterday, I was amazed at the number of times I saw people copy and paste the above statuses. Some of them were people that are normally pretty intelligent.  

What is it about social media that makes people check their brains at the door?  

Indeed, the stupid is strong on Facebook.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Manic Monday: A.B.

So, John Boehner is out as Speaker of the House, effective next month.  There's a list of people who are glad to see him go.

I'm not a fan of him leading the constant "caving" of the Republican Party.

My question is, though, what is life going to be like A.B. -- After Boehner?

Will Kevin McCarthy be elected next speaker?  Will he be the one to take a tough stand against Democrats?  Will he be the the party leader that people want?

Or will we have another speaker that will end up caving?

Or will we end up having so much fighting that nothing will get done?

I appreciate the need to stand on principle, and there are times when people need to do just that.  But unless our legislative branch learns to work together--and that may mean not getting every single thing you want--our Congress is going to swallow itself alive.  I am reminded of a verse in the book of Galatians:  if you keep biting and devouring each other, watch out or you may be destroyed by each other.

There has been so much biting and devouring going on in the United States Congress that all 435 members could be tried and convicted of political cannibalism.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Worship Wednesday (one day late): "Righteous anger"

I got very angry on Sunday night and stayed that way for two days.  And I'm still angry, but not with the intensity of those two days.

It began with an email.  I will not share the content of the email, because what is more important to me is my reaction to it.

I got angry.  I confess that it was an out-of-proportion anger.  I didn't yell, scream, rant, or rave, and I didn't send back an angry email to the person (although I did respond to it with a short note.  I didn't address my reaction because it would not have been appropriate to share my out-of-proportion reaction to the sender.)

But I got angry. 

Some of the things I got angry about, I'm sure, were self-pitying and self-righteous.  But one of the things I got angry about was the way I and others have been treated by abusive religion. 

There are people who use the Bible, and use religion, as a method of controlling and abusing people.  They beat people over the head with Scripture and then use "I say/do this because I love you," as a reason/excuse to do so. 

They take Scripture out of context, or twist those Scriptures, and use them as a basis for their "doctrine".  And you know what's scary about that?  They honestly believe that they are telling and teaching the truth!  Hitler honestly and sincerely believed that Aryans were the "master race" and that Jews, Slavs, and others were inferior.  More recently, in the Rwandan genocide, Hutus referred to Tsutis as "cockroaches".  (The movie Hotel Rwanda opens with a radio broadcast referring to "cockroaches".)  In the US, many whites believed that blacks were intellectually and socially inferior to whites.  (Some still do, sadly.) 

I am doing a Bible study with my Tuesday ladies' group.  Yesterday I found myself making notes like, "How do I know the author is telling the truth?"

I've been there.  I've been part of two groups that used Scripture for their own purposes.  I've had the pressure put on me to "invite everything that moves" to church, and the scripture in John 15 used as a  motivation:  "he who remains in me will bear much fruit . . . he cuts off every branch that bears no fruit" (my paraphrase).  "Fruit" is defined as "souls", and here's the reason it's defined as "souls":  because fruit reproduces fruit, and Christians are to reproduce other Christians.  Therefore, if you are not reproducing other Christians, you are not "bearing fruit" and you will be cut off. 

I have also had Hebrews 10:24-25--"let us not give up meeting together" used on me as a reason to be at all church events, including showers and weddings.  No excuse was acceptable.  I understand that being at showers and weddings is a way to encourage the people we are honoring, but I want the final decision to be mine as to whether or not I go, and not be "guilt-tripped" into going.  I also understand that a pattern of not meeting with other Christians isn't a good thing, because you do end up cutting yourself off from much-needed support.  But there is a difference between the gentle encouragement to be with other Christians and the guilt trip that's often been put on people to be there.

Jesus had some very harsh words for people who used religion to burden others.  In Matthew 23:4, he talked about those who tied up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders but weren't willing to lift a finger to help them.  I think there are ways we do that with people today.  We hold out certain examples as the way to live the Christian life, and then we--either blatantly or subtly--criticize or guilt-trip people because they cannot or will not live that way.  We talk about people who are "radical" in their faith, who sold everything they had to live in another country, or to go to someplace outside of their "comfort zone", with the implication that "if you don't do this, you're not a 'radical' Christian.  Jesus was 'radical', so why aren't you?" We're all called to live out our faith, but not everyone can or should sell everything they have and move to a third world country, or even to the inner city. 

And what about the formulas we use?  I sometimes think that there are Christians who believe that you must pray according to a certain "formula" (i.e., you must end every.single.prayer with the words, 'in Jesus' name' or else it is not a valid prayer.)  You must "claim" God's blessings and favors (the "name it and claim it" philosophy).  If your prayer is not answered, obviously it is your fault because you didn't have "enough faith" (whatever "enough faith" is) or because you didn't pray it in the "correct" way.  We do need to have faith when we pray, but I wonder if our faith is in "God will give me what I want" rather than "God will do what is best."  (I am often guilty of praying for my comfort or convenience, rather than for the will of God to be done.)

And God forbid that you vote for a political candidate that isn't a Christian.  I have read posts where the Christianity of those who voted for Barack Obama, or any Democrat, is called into question.  I know Christians who did vote for Obama, and while I may hold differing political views, I can't call into question their love for God.  On the other hand, I have serious problems with certain candidates who call themselves "Christians".  Mike Huckabee comes to mind.  I lost respect for him when he defended Josh Duggar after Duggar's confession that he molested his sisters.

On the subject of forgiveness:  I think we manipulate people into a false forgiveness when we demand that the wronged party "instantly" forgive.  I think "forgiveness" in some cases is defined as "you must say the words, 'I forgive you', and then you never think about it or talk about it, ever again; and you act like it never happened.  If you think about it, if you talk about it, if you don't behave as if it never happened, you have not truly 'forgiven'."  I do think we can make the choice to forgive, but 1) carrying out that choice is a long and sometimes difficult process, and 2) forgiving someone does not mean that the offender shouldn't or won't face the consequences of what they have done.  Sometimes an offender needs to face legal consequences.  Sometimes a person needs to distance themselves from another because the offender's behavior is unhealthy or dangerous.  I don't believe that's "unforgiveness". 

It's possible that I am writing this out of selfish anger and frustration, and that this entry speaks to the condition of my own relationship with God at the moment.  But I do believe that there are times when we are called to righteous anger, and when religion or Christianity is misused in a way to manipulate or abuse, that is a cause to get angry.  I am called to forgive those that hurt me and not hold their sin against them. 

On the other hand, I do think that the fact of abuse in the name of Christianity is a cause for righteous anger.

Jesus got angry about it, too.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Manic Monday: A plague on both your parties!

Once again, Armageddon is looming.

I suspect that will be the spin on the coverage of yet another threatened government shutdown. 

I'm not going to sit here and list the reasons why the government may or may not shut down, the threats of the leaders of either party, etc. etc. etc.

What I feel like is best expressed in the words of William Shakespeare in Act Three, Scene One of Romeo and Juliet, right after Mercutio is stabbed by Tybalt:  "A plague on both your houses!"

I hold both parties responsible for this mess that has become a ritual every September.  There are the threats to shut the government down, the back-and-forth dance between the parties and houses of Congress, the suspense that lasts up until just a few hours before the deadline, when party leaders walk out victoriously, arm-in-arm, to face the TV news cameras and announce the "bipartisan" deal that they have reached.

Then they go back to work for another year, only to repeat the same charade again next September.

My husband is a federal employee.  In 2013, the government did shut down for 16 days in October.  We were lucky.  We had savings to tide us over, and when the government reopened, government employees that were furloughed did receive back pay. 

We're tired of the games that Congress plays.  It's games like this that make it possible for "non-politicians" to grab and hold the spotlight in this election cycle.  People are angry, and they feel powerless.

As I feel right now.

A plague on both your parties!

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Family Friday: Home for sale

For the first time since 1968, there will soon be a For Sale sign on a house in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The owner can no longer maintain the property, therefore, they need to sell the house.

Zillow describes the house as a 1,191 square foot single family home built in 1959.  It has eight rooms, nine if you count the utility room, where the washing machine, dryer, and extra freezer are located.   It also has a carport, which is a garage without a door.

It's built out of concrete block with a flat roof.  Originally, the house was painted tan with brown accents.  It's now painted green, which is a more attractive color.  

There are two ways to get into the house.  Most people use the kitchen door, which is just off the carport.  There is a front door, which used to have louvered windows that you could open so you could see who was on the other side without opening the door.  Now, the front door is solid, except for a small window where you can look out and see who's outside.  The mailbox is to the right of the door.

The house consists of three bedrooms, one bath, a living room, a dining room, and a Florida room. People in other areas would refer to it as a "den" or a "family room".  Florida rooms are excellent if you have family dropping by that need a place to sleep, or if you need a place to work on your taxes, or use a computer (or a typewriter) for your homework, or to try and write a book.  If you want to put an extra TV in, this is the best room to do it.  Or, if you have a family member who wants to learn to play the piano, you can put the piano here.

If you choose to use the back room as a bedroom, the person whose bedroom it is may not have very much privacy.  There's a door to the Florida room from that bedroom, and people are in the habit of walking through that bedroom to get to the Florida room, although you can get to the Florida room from the carport just as easily.The two rooms in the house that have undergone extensive renovation are the bathroom and the kitchen.  Over the years, the kitchen has gotten new cabinets, a new oven, a microwave, and a dishwasher.  It's also had the floor covered over, first with sticky tile, later with stone tile.  If you want to get down to the original floor, it's made of a material called terrazzo.

The bathroom used to be at the end of a small hallway which had a linen closet and another closet where extra clothes were kept.  The owners decided to make the bathroom bigger, and knocked out a couple of the walls.  This gave them more space in the bathroom for storage.  There's a good sized shower in the bathroom, and you can adjust the spray on the shower head if you want to give yourself a good massage.  However, if you want to take a bath, you'll need to install a bathtub.  The owner's spouse, due to a debilitating illness, could no longer climb into a tub.  

There's also central air and heating in the house.  This wasn't always so.  The owners had central air and heating installed about 30 years ago, mainly for the cost savings.  Without central air, it's necessary to run the air all night long during the summer to keep the house cool enough to sleep. After the flue caught fire in the furnace, the owners decided to install the central heating.  

The carpeting has been replaced at least twice, and possibly more.  The owner believes in keeping a tidy house, so the carpet that's in the house now is in good shape.  Some of the furniture went with the owner into assisted living, but the furniture that's still there is also usable.  If you wish to keep some of the furniture and the appliances, perhaps the owner will knock a few thousand dollars off of the purchase price.  

The house sits on a 7,571 square foot lot, seventy feet wide, 108 feet deep.  In 1968, there were three trees and a small bush in the front yard.  In the back yard, there were a couple of tangerine trees, a couple of pine trees, and a larger tree in the corner of the back yard that once housed a tree house. There were also hedges in the back yard, and bushes that divided the north side of the property from the house next door.  

Various plants, including ground cover, decorate the front and back yard. There's also a toolshed, in case you want to do some work with a hammer and saw and don't want to make a mess in the house. Both of the yards are ideal to play in, or to just sit out back and daydream.

Over the years, most of the trees have been removed, mainly because it was easier for the owner to take care of the yard without all of the trees.  Now, the front yard is a small expanse of St. Augustine grass, with a little bit of Bermuda grass, and a concrete walkway sprinkled with gravel that leads from the driveway up to the front door.  In the side yard on the north side of the property, there used to be two melaluca trees that were excellent for climbing.  The owner had those trees removed because they were highly allergic to the flowers that bloomed every spring.  You may still find the roots of the trees in the yard if you look hard enough.

The back yard is fenced off from the front yard.  The fence makes the back yard secure if you have children or pets.

There's an elementary school about four blocks away, within easy walking or biking distance.  This makes the neighborhood an ideal one for families with young children.  When the kids get older, they will probably have to ride the bus to school.

In the interest of full disclosure, you do need to know that there was a death in that house.  No need to worry, it was not a murder, suicide, or other violent death.  The owner's spouse died peacefully in one of the bedrooms after suffering from the debilitating illness mentioned above.  

Zillow gives the house's original purchase price as $12,500.  Currently, they give a possible purchase price of $153,384.  Due to the vagaries of the housing market, you may be able to negotiate a cheaper price.  Or, if you decide you want to rent for a while. Zillow suggests a monthly cost of $1,289.

To whoever eventually buys this house, I hope you will be happy there.

I was.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Worship Wednesday: Christianese

I hate, detest, and despise Christianese.  But, rather than subject you to my diatribe against Christianese--and also, because I've been sick this week--here's a few videos that describe Christianese and will leave you with a good laugh:

And this last one, about Bubble Creek Canyon, hits closer to home than some of us would like to admit:

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Manic Monday: Refugees

My heart goes out to the refugees that are fleeing the current unrest in Syria.

And at the same time, I'm suspicious.

I want badly to help those who are innocent, who are caught in the middle of turmoil.

At the same time, I worry that there are those who will take advantage of this turmoil to cause mayhem.

Since today I've been dealing with general malaise, I'm just asking one question:

What do we do to help these Syrian refugees while at the same time protecting our own homeland?

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Family Friday: My own 9/11

Today, while those around the US are observing the 14th anniversary of 9/11, I'm observing a 9/11 of my own.  My father died 22 years ago today.

Daddy died of Lou Gehrig's disease.  This is a neuromuscular disorder that attacks the spinal cord, resulting in slow, insidious, and permanent paralysis, and eventually, death.  Lou Gehrig's disease is the informal name of amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS), named after its most famous victim, baseball player Lou Gehrig.

My own 9/11 began on Saturday, February 29, 1992.  I still remember driving home on a cool February day in Miami, Florida, driving past the Office Depot at State Road 826 and NW 103rd St, heading home after working my Saturday shift.  I was the librarian at a small psychology school at the time.

I got home, and the answering machine light was flashing.  When I played the tape back, I found a message from my mother.  So I called back, got my dad, who said that he hadn't heard from me in a while.  We chatted for a few minutes, then he handed the phone to my mother.

Her next six words punched my gut.

"Your father has Lou Gehrig's disease."

My reaction:  "Oh, my God!"

She told me that they'd known since right around Christmas--and I'd been there, and I didn't pick up on anything.  Perhaps that was a sign of exactly how self-centered I was. She told me that Daddy was on sick leave, and that he was going to retire from teaching.  When she said that, I knew that it was bad.  Daddy never got sick and he never took time off for being sick.  She also said that he was "in good spirits."

I don't remember anything else she said . . .and then she asked me, how are you doing?

I thought, how do you think I'm doing?  You just told me that my father is dying.  I knew what Lou Gehrig's meant.  I knew it was a death sentence.  I knew there was no cure and no treatment.

When I hung up, I spent the next hour on the phone with friends.  I called my two best friends, and I called my now-husband.

That day, I wrote my father a letter.  I told him how much I appreciated what he taught me, one of them being that no one owed me a living.  And I told him I loved him.  The next week, I went to see my family and my father told me, as soon as I walked through the door, "I sure did like that letter I got."

He never complained, never talked about his illness.  To the end, he maintained his humor and his spirits.  Right before he died, I showed him the directions I'd written out for my mother to come to my wedding, and when he saw that I had had to spend a full paragraph directing her through the Golden Glades Interchange in Miami, he gave me a look that said, "All that?"  I busted out laughing.

He died on the night of September 11th, 1993.  I heard the phone ring just before midnight but just figured that it was a wrong number or prank call.  The next morning, the phone rang again.  This time I answered it.  It was my mother, saying, "Your Daddy's gone."

My fiance drove me to St. Petersburg.  The funeral took place three days later.

I have written all of this down as cold fact.  This happened, that happened, this happened, that happened.  Perhaps, even after 22 years, I can't completely bring myself to totally face reality, to totally face my feelings about that horrible time in my life.  How do you write about the loss of the first most important man in your life?  The one who gave me half my genetic material?  The one who raised me and taught me so many things?  Who loved my mother and worked for his family and tried to take care of them?

On this day, there are exactly two things I'm sure of:

I hate ALS.

And I miss Daddy.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Worship Wednesday: It's Okay To Scream

I've been following the story of a young couple, married only a few months, who are living out the meaning of the phrase "for better or for worse . . . in sickness and in health."

The husband suffered a severe brain injury several weeks ago.  His wife has been at his side ever since.

Originally, the brain injury was described as "devastating".  I had expected to hear of this man's death . . . and yet, as time has gone on, I hear reports of his improvement.

His wife keeps people updated regularly on Facebook.  She's regularly assured by her social media friends that they are praying for her, and she's often complimented on her "strength and faith".  And it's true.  The faith of this young woman, and her inner strength, shines through in her postings.

But I wonder, as I read her posts, and as I read the comments of people on social media . . . has anyone told her that it's okay to scream?

Has she been told so often, "You're so strong," "I admire your faith," "God is taking care of you and your husband," "We're believing God for a miracle," that she may not feel like she has the right to scream, "Why me?  Why us?  Why now?  Why, God?  Why did you allow this to happen?"

Do we, in our desire to encourage those going through difficult, almost incomprehensible times, squelch those who feel the need to scream, to cry out, "Why?", to demand an answer from God?

And when they do break, when they do scream, what do we do in return?  Do we chastise them for not having "enough faith"? Do we criticize their attitude? Do we react like Job's "friends" and accuse them of sinning when they demand an explanation from God?

Job screamed before God.  From the second chapter of the book of Job, up until the the time God spoke to him out of the storm, you hear a dialogue between him, his friends, and the unseen other listener, God.  You hear a demand for an explanation, an insistence that "I have not sinned, I have done nothing wrong."

Paul, in the book of 2 Corinthians, spoke of being "under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure."  (So much for the interpretation of I Corinthians 10:13 as meaning, "God won't give you more than you can bear."  Paul and his companions DID suffer more than they could bear!)

David, and other Psalmists, screamed in their Psalms, "God, I cry out to you, but you do not listen."

Jeremiah demanded to know why the way of the wicked prospered.

Even Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, told his disciples that his soul was overwhelmed to the point of death.  He did not want to die.  He was willing to do it, for our sakes, but he did not want to die.

Why should we put a burden on others--to remain "so strong", to remain faithful, to not ask questions--when there are those in the Bible who did break, who did ask questions . . . and who God did not condemn for doing so?

If the young woman is reading this, and no one else has told her, I will tell her:

It's okay to scream.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Family Friday: Kevin

(I have changed the names of certain people in this post to protect their privacy.)

When we moved to Florida, one of the first friends my mother made was Sandra Rivers.  Her family and my family attended the same church.  Sandra had three kids, Kevin, Ricky, and George.  I got to be friends with Kevin because we were the same age and the same grade in school.  In fact, the three boys even stayed overnight with us one time when their parents were out of town.

In fourth grade, though, Kevin turned against me and became my enemy.  To this day, I don't know why.  It was more than just "girls have cooties".  His behavior was a 180 degree turn from what I'd known.  I remember sitting outside school, in a group he was in, while we were doing some sort of classwork, and hearing a graphic description from him of someone having a bowel movement.  He also started calling me "Feeny Fargent" (a form of my name, Tina Sergent), and ordering me to, "Say a cuss word!  Say it!"

That summer, I went to a church camp.  One day, after lunch, we in the girls' cabin came back from lunch to find the place totally trashed.  We suspected it was Kevin and his friend Billy, because they were the last people to eat that day.

Kevin left me alone when we got in junior high.  We went to the same high school, and I understand his behavior got worse.  In fact, a girl from my high school was harassed by Kevin to the point where she transferred schools for a semester.  

Kevin eventually dropped out of school.  I have no idea where he is now or what happened to his family.

It's only been recently that one question has come to my mind:

Was Kevin abused?

His behavior had to come from somewhere, and one sign of abuse is a sudden shift in behavior.  I don't know why he directed his behavior shift at me.  Also, the conversation he engaged in--such as the description of someone going to the bathroom--was so foreign to what I knew about him that, again, it had to come from somewhere.  The girl from my high school whom Kevin harassed, he threatened her with rape.  That is not normal.  Something had to trigger it.  (Sexual curiosity is normal.  Threatening rape isn't.)

Kevin and I grew up in the 1970's.  We didn't talk about abuse then.  We never talked about sexual abuse.  In fact, in many families, people didn't even talk about sex, period.  Perhaps that was out of a belief that talking about sex was going to make kids more likely to do it.  As we've seen in the recent Josh Duggar scandal, not talking about sex isn't a guarantee that your kids will grow up to have a healthy attitude towards sex.

My speculation here is just that--speculation.  I don't know what happened with Kevin.  I don't know if he was abused, or if something else happened to him.

I do know that, sometime in the early '70's, the person I knew became a person I didn't know.

I hope that, somehow, he got the help he desperately needed.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Worship Wednesday: The Hills We Die On

I find it interesting, in Christianity, the hills we choose to die on.

There's instrumental music (a major issue in the Churches of Christ, where I worship), baking cakes for gay couples, issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, whether or not the earth is young or old, what constitutes "modest" dress . . . and I'm sure, if give enough time, I could fill an entire page front to back with similar issues.

People argue back and forth, bicker, gossip, name call, and--in extreme cases--disfellowship or excommunicate over some of these issues.

There are hills we need to die on in Christiandom . . . but I wonder if, in our desire to defend the positions we hold, we're neglecting the greater matters of Christianity.  I'm reminded of the Scripture in Matthew 23:23, where Jesus says to the Pharisees:  "Woe to you, you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You give a tenth of your spices--mind, dill and cumin.  But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness.  You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former."

In I Corinthians 8, Paul addresses the question of food sacrificed to idols.  Instead of laying down the law, that "no, you should not", or "yes, you can," he starts first with the concept that "knowledge puffs up while love builds up."  He goes on to explain that an idol was "nothing at all in the world" and that "there is no God but one".

But then he reminds them that some people are "still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled."

Paul says that "food does not bring us near to God . . . be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak."  He ends the chapter with an appeal to the Corinthian Christians to not cause their weak brother or sister to fall into sin.

His emphasis in this case was not in laying down the law--in providing a law that would tell them what to do or not to do--but rather, in how you treat and respect each other.

Paul spends a lot more time talking about how Christians should treat others rather than the "laws" or "beliefs" we should follow.  Come to think of it, so did Jesus.  Both of them did have principles they emphasized--"Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength," "Love your neighbor as yourself", "Love one another as I have loved you," "Love does no harm to its neighbor," "Hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil".

Maybe, if we start there, we can figure out what hills we need to die on.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Dear Mr. Luther . . .

I recently heard about an online petition written by someone who has grievances with a particular church.  Among other things, the petitioner wants the leadership of that church to resign.

I don't know if the petitioner is a member of that church or not.  Maybe they are, maybe they are not. Maybe they have presented their grievances to the leadership and felt like they didn't get a fair hearing.  Maybe they're an outsider who is honestly concerned about the actions of this church. Maybe they're someone who just wants to stir up trouble.

What I found interesting was the name on the petition.  I don't know if it was the name of the petitioner or the name of one of the signatories.

The name on the petition?

Martin Luther.

Yep, THAT Martin Luther.  In other words, the person used a pseudonym in posting/signing that petition.

I'm using the remainder of this post to directly address the person:

Dear Mr. Luther:

When Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church in 1517, he was calling for a public debate on the issues about which he was concerned.  He signed his name to those theses.  The people that received them and read them knew who was behind those writings.

Luther knew that by placing his name on those writings, he was risking excommunication from the church and could possibly be executed as a heretic.  He was willing to do so.

You, on the other hand, have chosen--for whatever reason--to remain anonymous.  While you have used the modern version of the door of the Wittenburg Church--the Internet--to post your "theses", you have decided to hide behind the use of a pseudonym.

Your concerns may well be justified.  But if you are so concerned with the practices of the church you're criticizing, then at least have the courage to attach your real name to the petition you have posted.

Martin Luther, your namesake, went public with his concerns.  He risked a great deal by associating his name with writings that were controversial, to say the least.

It speaks volumes to his character that he was willing to sign his name to his concerns.

It speaks volumes to your character that you are not willing to do the same.

Sincerely yours,

Tina A. Seward

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.