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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Why Must Only Nightmares Be Real?

I know a young woman who has a happy marriage and a beautiful family.  She excels in her career and has achieved a leadership position within it.  The other day she told my wife that she lives in a charmed bubble of a life. Those who pride themselves in being fully conversant with the stifling miseries of life often look down on those living in happy bubbles.  These critics claim that it suggests shallowness, callousness, self-centeredness, and even a certain stupidity.  Yet who among us has not rejoiced when entering an environment full of hope and happiness– if for no other reason than recharging our batteries?

But surely as streaming bubbles of bliss can be criticized for being out of touch with reality, so too can the relentless gurgling gloom spewed forth by 24/7 breaking cable news.  Actually if one must become addicted to bubbles either blissful or glum, I vote for the blissful marbled ones rather than the murky, fated dirigible-like prisons of bloated, unrelieved hell.  Why must only nightmares be real?  

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Race Relations on a Personal Level

Two recent experiences in my life give some indication of my immediate racial relations.  I have a young friend who has repeatedly told me that he and his friends do not trust the police.  I have tried to dissuade him of this opinion asserting that they are his friends–even going so far as to point to a police car and ask “friend or foe?”  My intent was to program him to say “friend.”  It was not until I saw the recent hospital news conference in which a high status black surgeon who treated members of the Dallas police force for gunshot wounds admit that despite his work as a surgeon, he feared the police when meeting them on the street.  At once I came to see my young black friend’s distrust in a whole new light, and for the first time it dawned upon me that for 100 years of Jim Crow laws it was the police that enforced them.

I have a sore throat so yesterday went to see my doctor (who is black).  The discussion at one point drifted to varicose veins and I ask him what they were.  He said “I’ll show you mine.”  He put his foot on a stool, pulled up his pant’s leg, and pulled down his sock.  He pointed to some veins and said “that’s what they look like.”  You may think my deepest thoughts at that point were weird.  But I immediately thought how blessed I am to live in America where informality and equality facilitate my life.  I have thought the same thing time and again over the past week.  Even in tragedy people do not stand hoity-toity on their authority, but readily reveal the vulnerability of their hearts.  Likewise victims of police violence let me see by live video what they encounter.  Informality encourages plain presentation and immediacy. It suggests a family-like intimacy which enables empathy and fuller knowledge. 

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Voice of America

This past week has seen events that no one with goodwill in their hearts could possibly celebrate. Like many others I was overcome with anger and sadness.  There were voices I needed and yearned to hear.  And I heard them.  Voices that in the end tempered anger and sadness with humility and empathy.  Those who tut-tut America during such times and fling imperial charges from perfect perches fail to understand that the vast majority of Americans while sharing vexing human limitations and imperfections yet remain deeply committed to love and understanding as the only practical way to achieve civic and personal happiness.  Along this long bumpy road to Zion, it is impossible to limit earnest communication to the tight confines of Robert’s Rules of Order.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Mother and Child Reunion

Do you believe King Jesus is “enthralled by your beauty”? Why or why not? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 794).

Enthralled defined: Filled with wonder and delight (WordWeb Pro).

Consider a mother enthralled by the beautiful baby cradled within her arms. Does this beatific mother and child tableau suggest that the mother is unaware of the less than ideal aspects of her infant?  Some of these unpleasant aspects include dirty diapers, temper tantrums, midnight awakenings, and rash.  Is the mother unaware of all this? Of course not, not for a moment.

We often hear that Jesus loved us so much that he died for us.  We fixate on ourselves as ugly creatures fouled with brokenness, failure, imperfections, and sin.  No one could really love us, we conclude.  But isn’t the whole point that our lives need not be filled with edgy pretense. Jesus, though fully acquainted with our less than ideal aspects, is enthralled by our trenchant beauty. 

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Monday, July 4, 2016

Observations on Independence Day

Fill in the blanks: “I am in charge of ___.  I want to be in charge of ___ , but only for one day.” (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 614.)

Before marriage when Connie and I met, we each had our own villa.  Connie’s villa was decorated and arranged in a manner that suggested femininity; and mine had the plain, bold lines that suggested a male occupant.  Now married we share both villas.  While we feel free to make suggestions as to the configuration of either residence, yet even now the first and final say is always given in accordance with whether the villa was first hers or mine.  And this pleases each of us since as human beings we strive for some measure of control in our environment.

The same thing regularly occurs with families with offspring.  A very conservative couple will often allow their teenager son to decorate his room in a manner that would be totally alien to the master bedroom.  As a matter of course families recognize and pay tribute to the importance of independence in matters of control. 

The American democracy has long recognized the importance of shared control because, first, control is an elemental human need; and second, because shared control makes for more stable and effective societies–tasks are assigned and accepted without the resentment and rebellion fostered by imperial presumptive delegation and its inherent phoniness.  The basic moral truth is that selfish attributes of man must be fundamentally offset by pervasive goodwill and a community of participatory control.

To say that a society is based on freedom and liberty can lead to the delusion that an individual is in sole control of his behavior.  In a society with shared freedoms even individual behavior is inherently social and thus subject to the best interest of all, not just to one’s own selfish desires.  Perhaps one reason American prisons are full (and congress is in stalemate) is due to the incessant glorification of self-centered thuggery.  

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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Dissipating Silence

Ever enter a room with bad atmospherics and an imposed silence?  I have.  And on looking back there is a common element–silence is enforced because of issues demanding an airing but that people are reluctant to address out of fear of making existing relationships worse rather than better.  Out-and-out foes do not have this problem because when they meet sparks fly–there is no smoldering beneath the surface.  I have found that the best approach to imposed silence is to prayerfully address the situation later in solitude. This leads to mapping out the factors involved with goodwill, humility, and lucidity.  It leads to patience and insight as to how issues can best be addressed in a manner that will amplify mutuality of purpose and interests rather than introducing further division.  

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Friday, July 1, 2016

Oppression and the Basic Needs of Man

Who in your world are “oppressors” and who are the “robbed”?  How can your help bring justice to the oppressed?  How can [people] help? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1091.

The oppressed are those who are deprived of essential basic needs.  So the inevitable question arises: “What are the essential basic needs of human beings?”  It is logical to respond almost automatically “food, clothing, and shelter.”  But it is obvious that many with an abundance of these things can be oppressed in decisively important ways.  There is no escape from the conclusion that the essential basic needs of human beings encompass not only the three needs mentioned above, but also includes nurturing with its attributes of respect, goodwill, generosity, and empowerment.   In business this means sufficient autonomy to make accountability real.  In government it entails underwriting, encouraging, and enforcing individual and institutional liberty. In education it means sharing enthusiasms for academic disciplines and all their concurrent behavioral requirements.  Religion has a special responsibility to model and promulgate community nurturing.  And, of course, a family unit fails at its task if it fails to embody nurturing on the most intimate human level. 

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