Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Truth to Pierce the Heart

"This type of thinking and name-calling is the beginning of the dehumanization of a person or ethnic group. We objectify and project negative qualities onto those we fear or despise. It is difficult to discriminate against and mistreat a person when you identify with them or think of them as being "like us." However, if we can reduce them to 'ni----- [I chose to leave the word out], 'terrorists,' 'savages,' or 'dogs,' or distance them from ourselves as 'illegal aliens,' they become less than human and acceptable objects of mistreatment. After that, the transition from discrimination to hatred and bigotry becomes easier and easier; racism and 'ethnic cleansing' can be justified by well-meaning people as something they are doing to protect the good in the name of the Lord."
Brenda Salter McNeil
A Credible Witness
p. 31

This is a painful path that is brewing all around us. As a follower of Christ, I must live my life in step with Jesus as demonstrated in his encounter with the woman at the well.

Monday, October 27, 2008


I am 1/4 Dutch. My grandpa immigrated through Ellis Island at age 19 from Rotterdam. My heart goes out to others who immigrated through less politically popular circumstances. Many good people come to this country with much to offer, just the same as my grandfather, but coming from a different latitude to face other attitudes. Where is the justice? Just wondering. I understand there are limits to resources to care well for each other. But what is truly limiting those resources? And are those limits equitable?

I started thinking about this issue again when my friend recently told me she was third generation American, same as I am. She told me someone recently asked her what part of Mexico she was from. She wasn't sure if that question implied any attitude or not, but it caught her off guard. And she didn't know for sure where her grandfather was from in Mexico, anyway. No one ever asks me what part of Holland/The Netherlands I'm from. Made me think.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Foamy Soap

I just love foamy soap. This is currently one of the simple, little, inconsequential highlights in my life. And why not?!! I've been wrestling with all the propositions pending on our November ballot, trying to weave my way through the propaganda to find truth in light of Scripture, and form an opinion. That has been exhausting. So, soap is a pleasant distraction. I have a soap dispenser at the kitchen sink. It fills my hand with a squirt of soft, foamy, lemony bubbles. It has a light feel, a fresh smell, and a silly look -- this foamy soap in my hand. More public restrooms have it now, too. It's easier to wash my hands with that kind of soap, too. But I just enjoy the light, fresh bubbliness. It is just that simple. A little ahhhhhhhhhh in the day.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pugs on Parade

In the "tail" end of an o-too-long campaign, I must have needed a lighthearted moment. I was driving to meet a friend for brunch this morning, stopped at a light. A man was crossing the street with his two Pug brand dogs on leashes marching along beside him. Suddenly and randomly, I realized the dogs' quick little legs were stepping along with the rhythm of the jazz piece playing on my car radio, and the man's stride was matching a second layer of beat in the jazz song. I just had to laugh. Yes, it was a "had to be there" kind of moment, but like a mini-marching band without instruments, on the move, it was musical fun to watch, listening to Saturday morning happy jazz. All in the few moments it takes to wait at the light, I realized the rhythms of life continue no matter what issues are on the ballot and who is elected to office. Sweet!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Homosexuality and Public Education

I am a public school educator. There are some ads and e-mails flying around California and a pile of strong emotions connected to Proposition 8: "Eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry, initiative constitutional amendment." The ads and e-mails (with video interview of a Massachusetts family and kindergartner) I have viewed highlight that homosexuality will be taught in public schools. I have contacted the California Department of Education and I'm waiting for their position on this because I'm sceptical we'd be teaching with moral implication. I imagine we'd continue to teach respectful treatment of life. I have also researched and found that, in fact, homosexuality is part of the History/Social Science Framework for instruction already. Homosexuality is to be taught in context of genocide, bullying, and Nazi Germany. Historically, homosexuals have been targeted for harm, along with others who are different, in those three contexts. I think respect for others identified as different is valid, and in those contexts is important. This is not a moral pronouncement on lifestyle choices. I'd leave that to parents to teach. I think most educators would.

Rember, the public schools also teach about the history of the church, including the Hebrew nation, Constantine, and Martin Luther. Not all teachers cover those topics in a way that would please all parents. If others protested that "religion" was being taught in public schools, what would we say? I encourage everyone to think deeply, seek the facts, and then pray as you decide on some of these government issues that can distract us from the Great Commandment.

Regarding the video of the Massachusetts family that is attached to one e-mail, it is persuasive. Because it is, I ask viewers to identify those persuasive techniques used to get the response wanted. Some problems include the assumption of the intent of the teachers and the administrators, and the challenge with telling teachers to not "teach" homosexuality. What are they really "teaching?" All kinds of families exist, including divorced couples, single moms, widows, step-families, etc. How do we instruct children of different situations? We cannot generally assume educators are promoting morality. Are only certain sexual behaviors an issue here? What about affairs? Living together? Sex prior to marriage? It remains the "parent's sacred duty to instruct children morally" -- that is not being taken away. The father in the video told that the school said they would handcuff him and take him to jail. That was probably in response to his stated threat to not leave the school office. Not in response to his request for an accommodation for his child regarding parental notification, etc.)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Republican Called

Yesterday, I answered the phone and the caller stated that she was calling from the Republican Party and asked if I could answer a few questions. Well, I love a survey because I have plenty of opinions, so I said OK. I am registered as an independent which makes me a coveted swing vote for this fall's election. So, I've expected to be courted by both parties, and now it has begun.

Anyway, she asked me something like which of the following four issues is most important to me for the coming election:
  1. Oil (I don't remember her exact phrasing on this one)
  2. Low Taxes & Jobs (exact words)
  3. Right to Life & Same-sex Marriage (phrasing is close to how she stated it)
  4. Securing the Border (phrasing is close)
I asked, "Are those my only choices?" I was shocked by the lack of issues like the War in Iraq, the economy (though implied), caring for the poor, global responsibilities to equitably distribute wealth, health care, the environment, and education in the US, among others. Well, yes, those four were my only choices.

I, in a split second, then attempted to reason my way through them, even though none of these as stated was my top issue for the election. I wanted to discuss the complexities of each option, but this was not the format for that.

I selected "oil," because none of the others made sense as presented for a variety of reasons, including issues of state's rights, the current economic situation, what a president's role truly is, my world view in response to Scripture, and so on. Oil is not my most important issue for the election, but the only one of the four choices that remained after briefly thinking about each. So, now I am reminded again to be sceptical of statistics. If I hear "independent voters polled reported oil as the #1 issue for the 2008 election"...that would not be the whole story!

I think the only other question she asked was, "Can we count on your vote for John McCain?"