On Marches and Life

Last weekend was the women’s march in Washington. I had a lot of friends go down to march and I support them and their right to march. I had other friends who did not support the march because pro-choice organizations and people were involved. Today is the march for life. I’m sure I have friends who are in Washington for that as well.I also support them and their right to march. I hope that regardless of how you feel about either march you understand that the right to march is a fundamental part of America. You can disagree, but you have to support the right to free speech.

Now, the next part has been in my head for a day and I have hesitated  writing and posting it because I think people will be angry with me. I am operating on 5 hours(split into two 2.5 segments with 9 hours awake in between) of sleep and my judgment is impaired so here goes:

I respect the idea of the pro-life movement and agree that in a perfect world there would be no unwanted pregnancies, no dangerous pregnancies and no reason for anyone to consider an abortion. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world and even if abortion were illegal they would still happen, just in a more dangerous and life threatening manner. I also believe that there is a fundamental flaw in the thinking of a lot of the pro-life movement. I don’t think everyone who is pro-life fit the following, but enough do o make it troubling.

I am pro-life – unless you are a refugee trying to flee a war zone and then I will refuse to help because your religion is scary to me. I am not pro your life.

I am pro-life – unless you are an African American man who may or may not have committed a crime and may or may not have a weapon. If the police shot you, you probably deserved it. I am not pro your life

I am pro-life – unless you have a pre-existing condition and can’t get insurance once the ACA is abolished. I am not pro your life.

I am pro-life – unless you committed certain crimes. I don’t care that the system is flawed and innocent people have been sentenced to death. I am not pro your life.

I am pro-life – but don’t ask me to support my tax money going to welfare programs for poor single moms to be able to support the child once they are born.

I am pro-life and family – but I support tearing families apart to get rid of all of those brown people who have invaded my country. I’m not pro your family.

I am pro-life as long as we are talking only about an unborn baby and then who cares after that. I believe it was Trevor Noah who compared it to collectors. It is priceless until it is removed from it’s wrapper and then we don’t care any more.

Be pro-life. Just be pro everyone’s life at all times of life for every life regardless of who they are, who they worship. who they love.

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Am I Getting Too Old For This?

I was thinking about my upcoming personal schedule and I’m tired just thinking about it. I work today 11-9, tomorrow 9-5, Saturday 10-6 and Sunday 1-5. Thursday night/Friday morning from midnight to 7am I will be at church acting as a monitor for the winter relief homeless shelter. I will come home, try to sleep while my family is home and then, Friday night, go to a friends house and probably stay out too late. I then work 7 days in a row Saturday to Friday, leave work at 3 on Friday to drive home, pick up my daughter and head to church to leave for a youth weekend retreat in Ocean City. We get back in time to stay up late again to watch the Super Bowl and then get up Monday morning to start the work thing all over again, including my speed friending event at my old branch that may or may not get any attendees. I guess maybe mid to late month I might get a chance to just relax. I think I’m getting too old for all of this. I should retire.

The upcoming youth group trip started me thinking about the difference between when I first started working with a youth group and now. My daughter doesn’t believe me when I say the kids in the youth group I worked with at our old church actually liked me. She’s just kidding, but there is a big difference in then and now. When I was first asked to help with the youth group at my old church I was a 26 year old with no kids of my own. I was closer in age to the teenagers than I was to their parents. I was willing to stay up all night at lock-ins, play football, capture the flag, etc. I’m still willing to do all of that. I’m just old, tired and fat now. I also spent more time with the kids back then. I wasn’t just occasionally going on a trip with them. I was teaching Wednesday night Bible study and/or middle school Sunday school, so I saw the kids on a regular basis. It also helped that I was not related to anyone on the group. The dynamic is different when you are a younger adult volunteering than when you are someone’s dad. I still have difficulty adjusting to this new reality of being a random chaperone and not something more.

So, the moral of this post is that I am old and tired and need to stop thinking so much.

Tater’s Takes on Odds and Ends

Flying While Arab –A student was recently removed from a Southwest flight after another passenger heard him speaking Arabic. Just another instance of judging others because they aren’t like us. Best case scenario is that this random other passenger speaks Arabic and actually heard him say something threatening. Most likely scenario is that an Islamaphobe heard Arabic and got scared. I would rather fly with the student than with someone who panics because they heard another language. Grow up people.

Cry Baby Trump:  Anyone who knows anything about politics or had paid any attention to the  presidential race this year has known for months that a candidate needs a specific number of delegates or there could be a brokered convention. Anyone who knows politics knows this could lead to the delegates choosing anyone as the nominee even if they never actually ran for the nomination. Now that it appears that Trump may not get the delegate he needs he is crying that the system isn’t fair and that they are stealing the nomination from him. This is the way the system works. Maybe it isn’t the best system, but it is the way it is and if you paid attention you knew this going in. Crying about it now is immature and ridiculous. Grow up.

Do do, don’t don’t:  I see a lot of posts from religious people who are full of don’ts. Don’t drink, don’t use profanity, don’t let your kids read books with s-e-x in them, don’t this, don’t that. I can recall going to library conference sessions where they talk about signage and they warn against posting a lot of “don’t” lists because you want people to feel welcome. They aren’t saying get rid of the rules, they are just saying maybe don’t sound so negative and don’t lead with the don’ts. I would say this could also be said for the church Focus on the do’s and not the don’ts. When asked about commandments(which, btw, don’t mention any of the above) he didn’t go to a list of don’ts. He went to a short list of do’s. Do love God with all your heart. Do love people. Short and simple and if you do these it will generally lead to not doing the don’ts from the commandments given in the Old Testament. We tend to focus on the don’ts and not so much on the do’s. I think we would all be better off focusing on the do’s. Love sounds like a good way to go.

On Challenge Day 10 Let Freedom Ring

Today’s challenge is to write about something I feel strongly about. I could probably pick several things here, but considering there was another GOP debate last night, I felt freedom was the right choice. There has been a lot of talk this election about “making America great again.” I don’t think I have the same opinion on what makes America great. I think freedom is what really makes America great. America is the land of opportunity. America is the place where you can aspire to be all you can be no matter who you are. America is about the freedom to be you no matter who you are. If we take freedom away, we make America less great.

Donald Trump wants to keep Muslims out of America. America is not a land where we should be requiring a religion test to enter the country. Freedom of religion is in the US Constitution. Perhaps Trump and other Republicans should spend less time worrying about the 2nd Amendment and read the rest of the Bill of Rights. Freedom of religion is right there. Guess what? It’s number one. I’m pretty sure someone in the debate last night mentioned that these were put in a certain order for a reason and not drawn out of a hat. This was said to stress the importance of number two. So, I guess this religion thing must be even more important than the gun thing. The United States of America is a place where everyone is supposed to be free to worship or not worship however, whoever or whatever they want. I was free to be a Baptist and then leave the Baptist church and join  a Methodist church. I’m free to just stop going to church completely if that is what I choose to do. These same freedoms apply to all religions. You are free to be Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Scientologist, Pastafarian, etc and it doesn’t matter how I, or Donald Trump feels about that. This is what makes America great. Not an orange buffoon deciding he can restrict entry based on religion.

We are also free in other ways that some would like to restrict. I’m free to be a  man who is married to a woman. I have friends who are free to be men who are married to men and women who are married to women. You are free to marry who you choose. You are not free to tell others who they can choose to love and/or marry. I am free to live my life as a man and be called Alan. Caitlyn Jenner is free to live her life as a woman and be called Caitlyn. It doesn’t matter how you feel about that. Caitlyn’s freedom to be Caitlyn does not affect your life in any way You can’t restrict her freedom because you don’t agree with or understand her decision. You’re free to speak your mind about all of this. I’m free to disagree with you. A long as we don’t threaten or harm each other we can argue all day about it because this is America and we are free to do and think how we feel as long a we aren’t harming other or restricting their rights.

America is great because we are not a fascist dictatorship where we force people into conformity. We are great because we are not all alike.  I’m not sure how people think we can be “great again” by taking away freedoms that make us great. We shouldn’t be looking back at “the good ole days” when it was standard and legal to discriminate against people because they weren’t like us. Let’s keep America great by embracing our freedoms, not by restricting them.

Church Fight Club

I think it is interesting to see posts from church people who think they would be happy if only everyone was just like them. Get rid of the people who disagree with their beliefs and everything would be A-OK. I’ve written some about this thinking here – The Slippery Slope and I’m gonna write about it here. Unfortunately, while there are many lovely people who attend church regularly(Like me) there are others who still won’t be happy even if everyone started attending a Christian church. Here are some of the things people will fight about within the church:

  • No musical instruments vs hymns with organ vs full praise band
  • suit and tie vs dress pants and polo vs shorts and t-shirt
  • dresses vs pants for women
  • parsonage vs no parsonage(saw a big fight about this as a kid)
  • full immersion baptism vs sprinkling
  • only men allowed to teach/preach vs women can teach but not preach vs women preachers
  • pre-tribulation rapture vs post-tribulation rapture
  • wine vs grape juice at communion

I’m sure there are plenty more I’m missing. The point of this is just to point out that some people will never be happy and need someone to fight and something to fight about. If there is no one outside the church to fight(and sometimes even is there is) they will find things to fight within. Again, this is a small number of people. Most of the people I have encountered in my church life are wonderful, loving people. Unfortunately, the others are the loud ones who get all of the attention and are all over social media expressing their discontent. I don’t think this is what we want people to see and experience from the church, We need to be better.

What the Duck?

Yesterday in Facebook trending topics I found articles about the guy from Duck Dynasty speaking at an event. During the speech, he told a story which was basically the plot of a snuff film about an atheist family being raped and murdered. I’m not even sure what point he was trying to make with the story. Non-Christians don’t know that murder and rape is wrong? Non-Christians deserve to be murdered and raped? Christians are safe from murder and rape? If anyone has a clue what exactly his “snuff parable” means, please let me know.

What I do know is that this is not the person Christians should be holding up as an example. We spend so much time talking about doing what Jesus would do. Jesus loved. Jesus healed. Jesus taught us to love our enemies. To do unto others as we would have them do unto us. He ate with sinners. He spread his message without spreading hate. It seems these days that many Christians would prefer to laud the loud and the hateful and/or the modern day Pharisees who care more about rules than people. We won’t reach the world by telling the world stories about murder and rape. We won’t reach the world by telling them what they have to change before we will love them. We will reach the world through love.

Want to do what Jesus did? Love.

Montgomery County’s Stupid Move

The big news in schools locally is Montgomery County’s decision to remove all references to religious holidays from the school calendar. This move was prompted by the local Muslim community’s request to have one of their holy days off. It was a reasonable request. Most local school systems are closed for the major Christian and Jewish holidays, the precedent has been set. What can they do? Oh, I guess they can make a really stupid decision in response. I have two problems with this decision.

1. Do they think people are too dumb to know what they are doing? Do they think people are so stupid that next year when they are closed on Yom Kippur that people won’t realize why they aren’t open because Yom Kippur is not specifically stated on the calendar? A lot of systems already say winter holiday or winter break when they close at Christmas. I don’t think anyone is blind to the fact that they chose that time frame because it’s Christmas just because they call it something else. Don’t insult your public’s intelligence. This only makes people mad and does not even address the request.

2. As a public institution you can not promote or endorse one religion over another. If you set the precedent that you will close on certain religions major holidays, you are setting yourself up for requests to close on other major religious holidays. If you say no, you are discriminating based on religion. You can’t say that we won’t open or hold activities on x religion’s holy days, but then be business as usual on another’s. I’m not saying take away the religious holidays. I’m very happy that I get the day off on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I’d be perfectly OK with being off on Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur (apologies is spelled wrong. I’m too lazy to look it up). I’m just saying that once you start down that road as a public institution you can’t throw up a stop sign when another religion wants to join in.