03 Oct

Truth, Justice and the American Way?

I know it’s been ages since my last post. I’ve been dealing with a lot of health and personal issues and getting better every day. I’ve also been re-thinking things… what I want Abiding Ways to be as well as this blog. More to come as I get back to it. 

What is Truth?

This question was asked by Pilate to Jesus as He stood in front of him after being handed over by His own people. (Read it: John 18:33-40). I think that is a question that has puzzled mankind since the beginning of time. Even the serpent questioned truth when he asked Eve “Did God really say that?”

As the United States continues to be divided by a number of issues in the political world I am personally confronted by this same question. Generally in a court of law, evidence is presented and jurors or a judge weighs the evidence to determine who is more truthful. Hopefully this is done without pre-conceptions or biases. Needless to say, no matter how it turns out one side or the other will not be happy.

As did many of us, I watched the testimony of Dr. Ford and Mr. Kavanaugh. If you didn’t watch ALL of it, you have no business even having an opinion!(You CAN watch it on C-Span here) If you can’t set aside all your other beliefs/opinions/bias and view this circumstance – you also don’t have any business commenting one way or the other.

I was pleased at the outcome of the judicial committee’s vote to seek the help of the FBI and further investigate. And now we’re waiting with bated breath to hear what they learned.

As a survivor of sexual assault myself, I confess that as I listened I recalled my own experience, especially about not being able to breathe. I found her to be credible, as far as I could see… and believe that what she spoke is truth as SHE understands it. There was no anger, no seeming ulterior motive and definitely credible.

Mr. Kavanaugh from start to finish (you can see his testimony here) was noticeably angry, emotional and well, if he didn’t do what Dr. Ford said, I guess I’d be angry too. What especially struck me about his testimony is his own animosity and use of talking points which I previously heard from other members of the Republican side of the aisle. Also, there were a few questions he didn’t want to answer even when pressed. And more recently, as more people come forward, it appears that he lied under oath to the Judicial Committee. Summarizing, his character is in question, his anger and personal bias are disarming and well, lacking in judicial temperament. And more than any accusations of assault-THIS is why I cannot support him. As we learn more about him through investigative agencies and journalists it seems he may not have been truthful about his early life or his public life.

Just a side note… when he was first nominated, I heard and read much about his leaning toward over-turning Roe v. Wade-the Supreme Court decision that basically says that women have a right to control their own bodies, health and reproductive decisions including abortion and contraception.

In a discussion via Facebook Messenger, I was asked by a fellow believer why I hated Donald Trump. Truthfully, I don’t hate him, I just don’t trust him, believe he has the character and temperament or knowledge to be where he is and as we learn more about him in the news and through various investigations, I suspect my opinion will be confirmed. Anyway, in the conversation I had I asked “…and why do you support him?” The answer I got was “He is anti-abortion”. In a phone conversation with a sister believer I asked why she voted for Trump and she said pretty much the same thing. People at church said he is against abortion. These two live in separate parts of the country but it seems the only qualification for voting is “anti-abortion”. Is that any reason to vote for someone (employ him to represent the USA) – a singular issue that was sadly preached from the pulpit or other Christian gatherings? It is NOT a “pro-life” issue and anyone who says Trump is pro-life is deceiving themselves. This is the same man who took children away from their parents and put them in prison. Seemingly for illegal immigration but dare I say it… his racism/bigotry is showing. The Office of Inspector General (government watchdog) just released this report as to all the things that went wrong with just this one policy. Consider also the “Muslim ban”, gender restrictions, and fomenting division throughout this country. I always thought real leadership, especially in a president was to foster unity, peace etc. around the world and at home. Most depressing to me is that we left the United Nations Human Rights Council, pointing specifically to this body’s view of the Israel/Palestine conflict. There is so much more I could say about actions of this president/administration that is just not right, moral, peacemaking, or even admirable and should I dare say it Un-Christian!

My views on abortion are simple… I hate that there is a NEED for abortion. In this day of birth control (which this administration is also trying to reduce by wanting to defund and otherwise malign Planned Parenthood) and simply say “don’t do it” all the while seeming to support someone for a Justice on the Supreme Court being accused of sexual assault… well, it just doesn’t sit right with me. Abortion is a LEGAL, safe medical procedure. Should it become otherwise where women are incarcerated, doctors are jailed and persecuted, it will revert to back alleys and coat hangars and more dead women and babies which seems to be what the anti-abortion faction wants to prevent.

Needless to say there is much controversy about when life begins. Scripture talks about “the breath of life” (Gen. 1:30 Gen.2:7, Gen. 6:17,Gen. 7:15,Gen.7:22, Rev. 11:11). It can be interpreted that life begins when we take our first breath. Another phrase in scripture to consider is “for the life is in the blood” ) Lev. 17:11,  Deut. 12:23 ) After a bit of internet googling, this happens at about the11th week of development as cells. Both of these biblical signs of life are, to me, views that dispel the “Life begins at conception” theory of anti-abortion advocates… and therefore is not “murder”. Note also that Jesus and scripture never specifically talks about abortion.

Getting back to TRUTH….
Is evidence truth? Are proven facts truth? It seems in our animosity and taking sides no matter what’s right or wrong we’ve lost sight of the unity that is supposed to be a hallmark of the Church. Scripture tells of what happens when a nation is divided

(Read 1 Kings 16:21-28  )  … taking note that while Omri won the battle he was also EVIL) and Paul warned about factions and division in his letter to the Galatians ( Gal. 5:19-20 ) … all these things Paul talked about… not commendable in a judge of the people either!

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16 Feb

Thoughts, Prayers and ANGER!

I’ve been mulling what and how to write this post almost since I heard of the latest shooting.  Please be warned that it’s social, political and spiritual – yes that CAN happen!

The multitude of posts for “thoughts and prayers” for the latest (I’ve read 18) school shootings this year is starting to ring hollow. Aren’t we, as Jesus followers supposed to take action as well as pray? (James 1:22) . My beloved unbeliever is wont to continually rag on these self-righteous leaders in government and the church who say all the right platitudes but offer no justice, mercy or humility when it comes to developing solutions. Yeah, “thoughts and prayers” are pretty empty about now. In truth, I believe most of us may have started to normalize this rampant epidemic! You know what I mean… “Ho hum, there was another shooting today. Only seventeen people died” I ask you, is THAT what we have become as a nation, a people, and the Church?

How sad is it that we’re doing “active shooter” drills in schools? That we’re not even safe to go to the sanctuary that is our local house of worship? Heck, I’m starting to think its safer to walk down the streets of New York at midnight than it is to go to a concert!

Let me re-iterate, as I have done in previous posts about mass shootings: I AM NOT ANTI-GUN! I am against wholesale slaughter, especially of our young people so it’s about time to DO SOMETHING!!!

Our duly elected Congress seems to have forgotten the basics of the Constitution! Yeah, there IS the Second Amendment (and might I add NRA contributions) that seem to cause them to hesitate when it comes to ESTABLISHING JUSTICE, INSURING THE DOMESTIC PEACE (TRANQUILITY), PROVIDE FOR THE COMMON DEFENSE AND PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE  of their constituents aka their EMPLOYERS  … We the people!

One of my guiding verses in Scripture is 

Many will say that its a mental health issue. I’m of the camp that leans more to an emotional health  issue. You may think they’re the same, but that’s not quite true.  We may have diagnosed mental illness like bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia or depression.  These are considered physical psychiatric illnesses. However, what I’m talking about is how we deal with those feelings we all have like anger, frustration, fear, sadness, love, envy loneliness etc..  I think you get the idea. EVERYONE experiences these at one time or another in life. That isn’t the issue.  The issue is how we cope with these things. I suspect that the young man who horrendously shot up former classmates and teachers was depressed, angry and in pain. Unfortunately, while I understand he had been getting some direction, it wasn’t helping. I’m not making excuses for him – just sayin’ ! We humans are funny in that when we hurt we may strike out to hurt others. When angry, we want revenge. When sad, well, we may artificially try to fix that with addictive substances.

In my view this is part of the problem. In recent decades funding for those who need support has been drastically reduced. Medical costs, in general are often beyond the median income of anyone.

Now to the other aspect-responsibility and liability. This is where government has a role!! Recently, DJT rescinded an order preventing the mentally ill from acquiring a gun. Congress, as we speak, is considering a bill that would allow permitted individuals to carry guns across state lines-even those states that have no provision for “concealed carry”. How is this furthering the aims of the Preamble to the Constitution? How is this justice, mercy or humility? Dare I say it- it’s damn near stupidity! Just think if the Las Vegas shooter was able to take his arsenal to a concert at Hollywood Bowl!

As I said- I’m not against RESPONSIBLE GUN OWNERSHIP!!!   I have owned guns with requisite registration, licensing etc. I also took certification and use classes to know how to handle it. (just think, we do all that to drive too!)  IMHO MOST gun owners are responsible. Sport hunters, collectors, target shooters as well as those who do keep a gun for personal protection. From all I’ve read, they are just as upset as I am! As the saying goes … one bad apple… Sadly, too many paranoid conspiracy fanatics are “‘fraid the gov’mint gonna take our guns and lock us in FEMA camps and make us slaves” Well if that’s you-GET OUT AND VOTE! ELECT TRUSTWORTHY LAW-ABIDING REPRESENTATIVES. NOT THESE GREEDY POWER-MONGERING BRIBED OFFICIALS!!!  There, I said it! In many ways, we the people’ are responsible for this carnage! We, as a free people, are privileged to choose our leaders. And yet the apathy towards voting amazes me. What’s really sad is that those who do the most complaining about the government are the least likely to vote!

Parents-you’re there too! When did it become ok to not teach coping skills at home? When it was easier to sit them in front of the idiot box while you did your nails or had a beer with the boys? Teachers and school seem to me to have become nothing more than a babysitting service with some education thrown in. And heaven forbid a teacher let’s you know your child has a problem.  It must be the teacher’s fault right??? NOT!!! Many of my fellow Jesus-followers will say its because there is no prayer in schools. However, I believe scripture says otherwise. (Prov. 22:6). As parents WE need to train our kids to deal with those negative emotions in healthy ways. I know it’s hard but learn to say “NO” once in awhile. Help them to realize that they’re worth more than what Facebook, Instagram or other social media might dictate. Teach them it’s NOT acceptable to strike out when they’re angry, disappointed or not the most popular kid in school. And for heaven’s sake, let’s stop with “participation trophy” awards. Despite what culture seems to dictate, winning isn’t everything!

One last thing.. those who are classified as terrorists may, at the end,  follow a specific ideology. Considering  our culture and the current socio-political outrage of those who are immigrants or have a different faith or maybe just speak more than one language or don’t look just like you. (Can you say bigotry, racism, prejudice?)  I have a theory that perhaps a reason there are those “lone wolf” terrorists is that somewhere along the line they were singled out and persecuted.  Human nature is to go where we ARE accepted, are wanted and sadly, too many will go to extremes to prove their worth and belong.

So, to summarize… be watchful and yes definitely offer “thoughts and prayers” but also reach out. Jesus talked a lot about “the least of these”. Go and find them! Even if they’re weird, strange or different. Be a neighbor, and love as you want to be loved.
On the political side – register to vote, review the proposals and policies of ALL the candidates regardless of party affiliation. Choose “employees” who speak to your interests, concerns and ideals. MAKE THE TIME AND EFFORT TO VOTE!

I’ll be back on Monday. If you have a comment or other ideas about how we can stop this ugliness, please share! If you would like to be a “guest poster” at Along the Way, let me know in the comments. That is what the comment section is for OR you can go over to the Abiding Ways Facebook group and leave it there!

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18 Nov

#MeToo and Shades of Gray..

I’ve been down with the bug that’s going around as has hubby so I’m way behind in many things around here. After I write this I will be prepping the latest in the series on ROMANS. AND… I have a special houseguest coming for the week so when able, I’ve been trying to tidy up the place and get ready for winter. As a result, I will be taking next week off, just too much going on! In December I’ll be resuming the Romans study with “Chapter by Chapter” study. I honestly AM trying to be more consistent in writing. In the meantime…

Today I did one of those Facebook “most words” things and realized how I’ve been more involved with the current political climate. In the past when I’ve done this my loved ones and my faith have been those BIG BOLD words but not this year. An issue that I haven’t yet talked about is the huge uptick in women coming out about the humiliation of various forms of sexual harassment to outright forcible rape. What seems apparent to me is the varying degrees of these claims and what it means not just to these women but to the men involved and the much bigger issue of the prevalence of it in our culture. And it disturbs me. It used to be worthy of expulsion to commit such acts and now well, it seems you can even be a president or maybe a senator! Have we become that uncaring?

A lot of what I’m going to say is personal opinion based on my experiences as a counselor as well as being female and a victim of many forms of abuse. First, I’d like to offer a few of my personal definitions for the varying degrees this abuse might take. While abuse is abuse, I am of the thought that some is more serious and harmful than others. I know there are some women out there who may disagree with me and that’s ok. Keep in mind I don’t think a single bit of it is ok! IT IS NEVER OK and NEVER THE VICTIMS FAULT!!!

First, there is harassment. This is strictly verbal by the perpetrator. Innuendo, out of line comments on anatomy( not to be confused with “I like your new hairstyle” etc), cat/wolf whistles, and stuff like that. You may be “sexually harassed” if something a colleague or other acquaintance says things that make you feel uncomfortable. This can happen on the job, in school, and yes, even in church! Best defense is a good offense-TELL SOMEONE as soon as possible.

The next is sexual assault. This IS a crime and should be reported immediately to someone in law enforcement and/or a rape crisis hotline!
The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent. Some forms of sexual assault include attempted rape
fondling or unwanted sexual touching, forced performing of sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body. While touching may not be involved, someone performing an act in front of you is also assault.

The last is rape. Rape is a form of sexual assault, but not all sexual assault is rape. The term rape is often used as a legal definition to specifically include sexual penetration without consent. For its Uniform Crime Reports, the FBI defines rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” Keep in mind that this includes what is often termed “date rape”.

Now that I’ve defined these terms, let’s talk about how we got here. Throughout history, especially ancient history, we gals were often considered valuable only as a means to end. Often more property than person. And yep, a “lesser” human being. This wasn’t always the way it was and definitely not what I believe God had in mind. Consider that woman was created to be a helper (Genesis 2:18 ) In Hebrew the term is עֵזֶֶר ˓êzer, ay’-zer;to aid:— help. Derived from another Hebrew word עָזַר ˓âzar, aw-zar’; to surround, i.e. protect or aid:— help, succor. OK you got the idea. And then came the fall! It seems that after that women started to be less regarded as helpers and more subject to the menfolk. ( see Gen. 3:16).

Sexual assault was also told of in scripture…
The gruesome story of how a woman traveler was sexually assaulted and murdered in the town of Gibeah is no doubt a typical example of what was going on during the time of the judges. (Judges 19:1–30). If you read on from there, you see the outcome. Consider also the rape of Tamar by her brother Amnon found in 2 Samuel 13:1–19 …. this is not only forcible assault, it’s incest. Other victims include Jacob’s daughter Dinah ( Gen. 34:2), and some may even say that Bathsheba was “ordered” to submit to David. Being summoned by your king can be pretty intimidating!!

On the other end, we must also mention that Potiphar’s wife wrongfully accused Joseph of assault which got him in prison. And therein lies an issue that can complicate the entire discussion!

In today’s political climate, many women feel that legislators are still trying to control our bodies. Some states are trying to criminalize legitimate forms of birth control under the guise of the “pro-life” movement. While I hate the NEED for abortion, there are reasons for the medical procedure (think rape, incest especially). Many states don’t allow needed education for our teens to learn not just how to prevent pregnancy, but also how to behave with and toward the opposite sex. Our culture, in general is highly sexualized especially in advertising. Body shaming is out there and too many young women think if they’re not a size 2 that they aren’t going to be “wanted” unless they acquiesce to the unwanted attention of co-workers or fellow students. While it is cheered when young men “get there”, women are maligned for the same behavior. It’s all part of the bigger issue!

Getting down to brass tacks, the multitude of revelations of sexual abuse have brought the issue to the forefront. And yes there ARE degrees of this kind of abuse. It’s one thing to have one accuser and a disgusting act photographed, no matter the reason. BUT when there are more than one, A pattern is developed. Many of these men are the same that seem to want to rule over women and indeed common belief says that men who abuse are all about power and not sex at all. Yes, I know men can be vulnerable also, but in recent months it’s women who are coming forward, raising their voices to make us all aware that it is more common than just political candidates and movie stars. Just think – how many have suffered that don’t garner headlines? (Just search on “#MeToo on Twitter)

I am one of the #MeToo folks. I’ve been harassed, assaulted and worse! Strangers aren’t the only offenders. Our husbands, boyfriends, brothers, uncles, fathers may also victimize. Our bosses, teachers, superiors and co-workers too! So, ladies, speak up, speak out, stand tall! Talk about it with someone!! Let’s stop it!

To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org.

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