Overcoming Darkness: Where’s the Hope in Another Tragedy?

19 Jun

fire

Ever since Cain felt enough hatred in his heart to turn on his own brother in a murderous rage, humanity has suffered at the hands of one another. We kill each other out of passion, out of hatred, out of prejudice, for revenge, in self-defense. Murder is a deep-seated human evil as old as humanity itself.

People are calling this disturbed killer who took nine lives in Charleston an animal who feels no empathy for other people. They can’t fathom how he could look into a person’s eyes one moment and in the next feel enough hatred to take away his life.

I can’t fathom it either. But this person is not an animal. Most animals kill out of self-preservation, to sustain their species. That’s not why humans kill. Human beings have an inherent darkness handed to us as soon as we enter this world. It’s called sin. It’s the result of the fall, and it affects us all in some way.

This person didn’t become an animal when he killed innocent people. He succumbed to the darkness of human sin.

We often hear when these tragedies occur something along the lines of, “He didn’t start out that way; something got him to that point.” The reality is we all start out that way. We all start out with a fallen nature. Our first instinct when we begin to develop is to disobey, to say no, to defy the rules put in place to protect us. There is nothing innocent about the root of human nature. It is deeply, permanently scarred by the curse of original sin. There is no hope for us within our own selves. In the deepest recesses of our hearts lies the capability to do evil to one another, to commit unspeakable acts of hatred to our fellow human beings. Hope can never be found in the goodness of human beings acting alone. Alone we are selfish. Alone we are greedy, lustful, prideful, spiteful. Even the best of people see these things within themselves. And there is no hope in that.

Hope is only found in grace. Hope in the wake of a senselessness tragedy is only, only found in grace. We will never find hope in an answer to “what went wrong” to make this individual succumb to the darkness. Hope also isn’t found in trying to seek justice, to make this person pay for his crimes—although of course he should be tried and locked away for the rest of his life. But vindication isn’t where we find hope. Hope is only found when we surrender to the grace of a savior who promises that one day, this will pass. One day, the evils of this world will be no more. Because he is coming to destroy sin forever.

He is coming to right every wrong, and although we will face unbearable trials and suffering in this world, he has overcome it all. And one day we will see only light where there was once darkness.

That is how we can rest in hope during a tragedy. And that’s how we can find redemption for the darkness in our own hearts—darkness that doesn’t necessarily manifest itself in crimes of this scale, but which is there nonetheless. Our prejudices, anger, jealousy, bitterness, greed. The only hope for any of us is grace.

We will never eliminate evil while we are here on this earth. That doesn’t mean we don’t do our best to fight it and hedge against it; it means that we can’t rely on humanity’s ability to save itself. We are far, far too broken for that. We can’t look inwardly for saving. We can only look up.

Silent Night | Seeking the Savior Amid the Noise of Christmas

15 Dec

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Christmas comes the same time each year—but does it always seem to just blaze by at lightning speed and go careening off into January before you get a chance to breathe it in? Perhaps it seems like the more Christmases you experience, the more Christmastime feels like a striving for a feeling—that warm, peaceful feeling you’ve always associated with the birth of Jesus. Yet Christmas comes faster and faster each year, and the feeling you’re so desperate to feel just seems to sweep in and out, muffled by the whirlwind of gifts, lines at the mall and Christmas parties you arrived late for. So you buy tickets to Christmas concerts and holiday expos, penciling in time to get some Christmas in your life before the 25th arrives. But these efforts are in vain. They offer a short flicker of the feeling, but it is quickly snuffed out once you re-enter your life, where the bills are waiting to be paid, dinner is waiting to be made, the dishes are waiting to be washed and, of course, Christmas gifts are waiting to be be bought. Perfect gifts that will make everyone you love feel special and make you look like a thoughtful friend—not like you’re trying too hard or anything, but not like you’re just cheap and in a rush either. It’s a tough balance to master.

Before you know it, it’s New Years Day and you’ve got to figure out how you’re going to take down the lights, when to disassemble the tree, where in the world you’re going to put all the new stuff you got, and when you’re going to have a few free hours to go back to the dreaded shopping center to make your returns and exchanges. Maybe you feel a bit of remorse for never really obtaining the feeling, but it’s not something you can dwell on. It’s a new year—you’ve got to try to make some feasibly obtainable resolutions, lose that holiday weight and get on with life. You made it through the season, though, and maybe things will be better next year when your life is a little more together.

But we all know that won’t be the case. Life is unpredictable. New seasons bring with them new joys and sorrows, and by the time Christmas rolls around again who knows what your laundry list of things keeping you busy will look like?

The trick isn’t to put the joy and peace of Christmastime on the back burner until all of your duties are accomplished. You can’t push the manger aside until you feel like you’ve done enough to rest in the promises of a silent night. There will always be more to do. Consumerism and our own self-induced societal expectations do an excellent job of drowning out the cries of the newborn king with the ringing of jingle bells and the stampeding of shoppers. The peace of Jesus is unlikely to be found amid such madness. Expecting that Christmas feeling to overwhelm you while you’re caught in life-altering traffic trying to get out of a packed-out parking lot is naive at best.

Jesus made his entrance into the world quietly and discreetly. The greatest gift ever given was given on a silent night two thousand years ago, in a barn, to an audience of poor shepherds. 

Try to bask in that simplicity for just a moment. The God who gave us that gift is not a God of grandiose, complicated expectations. He is a God who had every ability to give this gift in an elaborate, over-the-top experience for the whole world to see, but instead He sent his son to a little-known couple traveling to their hometown by donkey. The gift was delivered in the deep stillness of a silent night. Even the grandest part of the story, the choir of angels declaring his birth, was only revealed to a group of shepherds watching their flock in the night.

The promise of Christmas is the same today. It can’t be achieved by constant striving for more Christmasy experiences. It can’t be put off until a more convenient time comes around. It is here, now, in the stillness of a quiet and receptive heart. It is here when you allow it to bubble up inside of you until it spills over into everything you touch. It’s here when you slow down, give up your striving and simply ask for Jesus to meet you in this place at this time.

He’s waiting for you to wait for Him—expectantly, joyfully, with all the hope and anticipation of that first Christmas.

Wait for him in these last few days of Advent. Allow him to join you in your waiting, to point your heart in the direction of the stable. Let him show you the beauty of his gift—the only gift that really matters when the blur of December fades and gives way to the new year. Be still and receive it.

Trusting You Anyway: An honest discussion about my miscarriage

11 Aug

Praying woman hands

What does it mean to trust God with everything?

I’m trying to figure that out now. Ordinarily I feel like I’m a person with pretty strong faith. I’ve faced some serious mountains in my life, and in everything God has been faithful. In every dead situation He has brought forth new life. After every storm He has brought the dove and led me to dry land. He has rescued me, time and again. And in return I have shown Him the deepest faith I could muster.

I’ve always known that God gives and takes away. I’ve heard it all my life, experienced it to certain degrees even. But I never felt the full weight of it until two weeks ago, when I miscarried my unborn baby.

God, why?

What good could come of such a thing? What could possibly rise from the ashes here, Lord? There is no good here. There is only despair, heartache, emptiness.

It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it the pain of a miscarriage. Imagine the anticipation of a beautiful and unexpected change in your life. A surge of potentials, a surge of dreams. Planning, praying, preparing. Doctor’s visits. Seeing things on a screen that jolt you from fear and anxiety to joy and anticipation–instantly.

See that? That’s the heartbeat. My gosh, babe, that’s a heartbeat. Our baby is half a centimeter but it’s got a heartbeat. Imagine that.

You envision your future in a whole new light. There’s a date several months away that’s meaningless to most people, but it means absolutely everything to you. Your life will change, and it’s going to be for the better. God has given you a gift. It’s a gift that you didn’t expect, but it must be part of God’s plan even if it wasn’t part of yours. Okay, God, I got this. I get it now. Let’s do this.

And all of a sudden you’re ready. You’re excited. It’s go time.

And then one night something is wrong.

Why are you feeling like this? Why is this happening? Should we call the doctor, go to the hospital?

No, because in a moment it’s over. It’s over, everything you thought was happening is no longer, and you’re on your knees on the bathroom floor crying out to God­­­ in utter despair. Why?

I thought if I listened to God obediently and followed His direction I would be okay. I thought that trusting Him with an unexpected and untimely pregnancy would bring me favor. It was bad timing and less than ideal circumstances, but I believed. I was faithful. I said yes, God, I’ll do this. This must be your plan. It must be your will. So I’m all in.

But then in an instant it was gone. I didn’t understand. I don’t understand.

I’m still asking why. Maybe I’ll always be asking why.

What does it mean to trust God with everything?

I think it means trusting when it doesn’t make sense; having faith when the world looks on and says you have no reason to. It means that you truly believe in something greater than human understanding, a Creator that is so loving and so powerful and all-knowing that there is no possible way to comprehend His will. It means that you trust your Maker so deeply that even when He takes away in ways that are totally incomprehensible, you hold fast to faith, because you know that He is good in all things.

Our world is so small. The things we can see in one lifetime are miniscule in comparison to what the God of the universe sees in one moment.

That doesn’t necessarily make it easier. It doesn’t make the pain go away. But it reminds us that this is not the end. It reminds us that there is an end to our toils and our tears. It reminds us that through it all, we are held in His love.

We are never promised an easy life–but we are promised that God will work everything for our good, if we love Him. Everything. Even our suffering and heartache. Even the loss of our unborn children. Everything. It’s a promise. And it’s a promise I’ll believe because, although I am not always given a reason why everything happens, I have never experienced an unfulfilled promise from my Savior. And so I will believe, and I will trust, and I will give praise.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” 
(Isaiah 41:10)

P.S. Sometimes in times like these it’s helpful to have a song that you can go to that reminds you to continue to keep hoping. Here’s the one that has been my anthem these past two weeks. I hope that if you’re facing something similar it will encourage you like it has me. It’s a reminder to those of us who have seen God move in our lives in the past to hold onto Him. No matter what we face, we know there is One who is able to heal, bring joy and restore. He’s done it before and He will do it again.

“And if there’s anybody here who’s found Him faithful
Anybody here who knows He’s able
Say Amen
And if there’s anybody here who’s seen His power
Anybody here brought through the fire
Say Amen
Anybody here found joy in the middle of sorrow
Peace in the storm, hope for tomorrow
And seen it time and time again
Then just Say Amen”

Random Acts of Violence: Is There a Culprit Being Ignored?

11 Jun

guns

Yesterday marked another tragic day in a recent string of violent homicides in America. A student shot and killed his 14-year-old classmate at a high school in Troutdale, Oregon, before taking his own life. This event comes on the heels of a violent killing in Las Vegas Sunday, a school shooting in Seattle last Thursday, the deadly attack in Isla Vista a few weeks ago, and, hitting close to home, the killing of a Norfolk Christian student and a police officer in Norfolk on Friday, May 30.

The taking of a life is always a tragedy, but what makes these killings so perplexing and devastating to us is the seemingly random nature of the crimes. In many of these recent cases, the killers seem to have no real connection to their victims. They are senseless, unprovoked random acts of violence, and innocent people are losing their lives.

What’s going on? Is our country becoming a more violent place? And what’s the solution? Do we homeschool our kids, or maybe send them to school with bulletproof backpacks? How do we fight against a random enemy who might be anyone, anywhere?

For those who believe in the 2nd Amendment, maybe we’re thinking we should give up the fight. Everyone seems to be pointing at the guns as the problem. In a discussion on Tumblr this Tuesday, President Obama again referenced guns as the problem in these shootings, saying,

“My biggest frustration is that this society hasn’t been willing to take some basic steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who can do damage. We’re the only developed country where this happens. And it happens weekly. Our levels of gun violence are off the charts.”

Maybe he’s right. Weary from hearing story after story of horrific violence in our country, I can practically see the weight of inaction on this issue pressing heavily on the shoulders of the family and loved ones of the victims. It’s happened again, and again, and again. Why can’t we stop it? What are we doing wrong? Perhaps he’s right, I think to myself this morning as I am hit with the news of yet another killing. Maybe we should round up the guns. Nothing else connects these random killers to one another besides their access to firearms, right?

But that’s not true at all, is it? There’s something amiss in this assessment, particularly because not all mass murders are committed with guns. In fact, between 2007 and 2011, far more people were murdered with knives or other cutting instruments than were murdered with guns. Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that the cities with the most gun violence in America are actually the ones with the most stringent gun control laws (case study: Chicago). And that mass shootings most often occur in places that are “gun-free” zones or have incredibly strict gun control laws.

It’s not the guns. Despite the fact that gun sales have been on the rise in recent years, homicides and violent crimes at the hands of guns have significantly lowered. What does seem to be on the rise, though, are these random acts of violence and murder and their consequential coverage by the media. We hear little to no news of deadly crimes that occur in Chicago on a daily basis, but when there is a random killing in a school or a pizza parlor, we are inundated with the details over and over. And then everyone flocks back to the gun control argument and we find ourselves in a cyclical pattern of being angry at the unfairness of it all and frustrated at our inability to offer any real solutions.

How about we try this on for size? Tons of acts of violence in America, many of them totally random, have been committed by people who were on antidepressants or other psychotropic prescription medications. Columbine shooter Eric Harris was taking the antidepressant Luvox. The manufacturer of this drug has even admitted that during the clinical trials, one in 25 children and youth taking the medication experienced mania, “a dangerous and violence-prone mental derangement characterized by extreme excitement and delusion.” Andrea Yates drowned all five of her children in 2001 while taking Effexor, another antidepressant. Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007 was taking Prozac. Adam Lanza, who murdered 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, was on Fanapt, an anti-psychotic that was initially rejected by the FDA.

Think about it. These drugs are prescribed to alter the state of a person’s mind. And although they might “work” by making some people feel less depressed, most are labeled with a warning that side effects can cause violent or suicidal thoughts and behavior.

Since 1988, America has experienced a 400% increase in antidepressant prescribing. One in 12 Americans is now on an antidepressant. And regardless of the fact that with 30,000 Americans overdosing on prescription drugs in 2010, it became the No. 1 cause of accidental death, prescriptions continue to be doled out like candy.

And yet, no alarm bells are sounding in the direction of the pharmaceutical companies. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that the pharmaceutical industry is the most profitable business in the country, bringing in billions of dollars each year by prescribing their drugs. Antipsychotics take in over $14 billion annually, making them the top-selling therapeutic prescription drugs. And also the ones with the most potential to alter a person’s state of mind in a very dangerous way.

Reports of the backgrounds of the killers in these most recent events are beginning to emerge, and the trend has tragically continued. Aaron Ybarra, who killed a Seattle Pacific University student, was being prescribed Prozac and Risperdal. It is also being reported that Elliot Rodger, the Isla Vista mass murderer, was very likely on a long track of prescription drugs throughout his childhood.

Yet we continue to shout “Guns!” And when we’re done blaming guns we talk about our inability to treat mental illness—and in a sense, we’re closer to the heart of the issue when we make this argument. But it’s not that we’re ignoring the mentally ill. It’s that we’re throwing pills at anyone who expresses any hint of abnormality—pills that are altering their minds in potentially dangerous ways—instead of actually treating them. We’re looking at a gaping wound that so obviously requires a tourniquet and instead slapping on a band-aid. A very expensive band-aid from which we are reaping an enormous profit. And then we look on like a bunch of sheep as more people die. And we shout “Guns!”

Prayer Poll

13 Mar

I have ANOTHER request of you. My class is now requiring that I conduct a text messaging poll about another aspect of spirituality. Below are links to four quick poll questions about prayer. I would be so appreciative if you would take a moment to respond! All you do is click the link to the poll and respond via text. It’s totally anonymous. Thanks so much!

Is prayer important to you?

How often do you pray?

Does your generation pray?

What do you pray for?

Rambling of the Day: Desperately Seeking Permanence

10 Mar

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Photos by Simone Anne, courtesy of Death to Stock.

We’re all seeking permanence of some kind. Whether it’s a career, a relationship, a personal goal or maybe even a spiritual need, we are all seeking the stability we believe can only be found only in a permanent situation. Nobody likes the uncomfortable feeling of floundering around in temporariness, harboring on the edges of something that could be but wondering all the time if something will ever come of it. We hate that in-betweenness, that uncertainty that hangs over us in situations with undeterminable outcomes.

Will this relationship ever move forward into something permanent? Will I ever get the promotion I need to have to income that will make me feel stable? Will I finally find the perfect place to call home, never wondering if there’s something better out there—and be content to stay there?

And we get weary waiting. Day after day we become increasingly desperate for that thing, whatever it is—that thing that’s going to flick the switch from temporary to permanent: that job, that person, that perfect situation, whatever it is. Once it comes, we’re certain things will change. We’ll be happier, less worrisome, more comfortable, at peace with ourselves. Life will be better. And so we live on, each day plodding along, eagerly anticipating that day when we won’t have to anticipate anymore because we’ll finally have it. Permanence. I’ll be happy when…

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When what, exactly? When the stars aline and life is finally all you dreamt it would be? When you’re finally at that goal weight and it’s here to stay? When your relationship is finally going smoothly and you’re settled down comfortably in happy wedded bliss?

It’s funny how we do this to ourselves. We’ve got a whole lifetime of experiences to prove to us that that nirvana state doesn’t really exist, yet we continue to hold out for it, waiting for something permanent to take hold of us and sweep us up in the beauty of complacency once and for all.

But this life doesn’t offer permanence.

Nothing about it does.

Tomorrow morning isn’t a guaranteed event. Neither is your next birthday, or next year when you’re up for that promotion, or ten years from now when the mortgage will finally be paid off. None of that is guaranteed to you. And even if and when you do finally get there, there is no guarantee of what life will look like at that time. That permanence you’re so desperately holding out for is simply the illusion of stability; up close it is just as evanescent as the moment you’re living right now.

Here’s the point. I’m in the midst of a very uncertain time in my life right now, and I have found myself increasingly living in a state of desire for it to be over and longing for the things in store for me in the future. I’m constantly in a state that feels like something similar to the agony of adolescence: an entrapment in a painful in-between phase that nervously clings to the status quo while at the same time staring wistfully toward the future, daring to dream—no, demand—that it come blazing in like a chariot. I’m impatient for that future now. I’ve waited long enough. I’ve done enough of the in-between work. I’ve done enough temporary. I want the permanence.

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But it is in this moment that a voice whispers, ever so gently, that nothing will ever be permanent. That it was never intended to be. Because this place is temporary, and everything here will one day pass away. This world is not the end of the road; in fact it’s just barely scratching the surface of the beginning. So the light of the end of the tunnel isn’t anywhere to be found in this life. It’s only found in the One who has overcome the troubles of this world. The One who has gone before and paved the path from temporary to permanent, who has our future solidified in His work on the cross.

And so, that voice whispers, carry on. Carry on in all that you do with a grateful heart, an open mind and a hopeful spirit. Carry on with your day-to-day in-betweenness, your working-up-to-something-ness. And do it cheerfully. Do it willingly, with a full heart, confident in the wisdom that this life is not your permanent situation. This world is not your dream home. It won’t feel any more so when you finally get to that elusive goal, either, because this life doesn’t offer that, and it was never intended to. This life is wonderful, beautiful, extraordinary—but, oh, so very, very temporary.

And so, my dear, I hear in a whisper, stop your desperate search for the permanent here. Steady your heart—it needn’t be so overwhelmed with longing for the things of this life. Some of it will be wonderful, and you will get to those places, and for a moment you’ll be at peace and you’ll feel the warmth of the sun on your face and you’ll think that this is it. But, darling, the sunshine will soon be overcome by clouds once again, and you’ll wonder what you did wrong, and you’ll again question why, why, why, dear God, can’t I have permanence? My love, you shall, but please believe that it is not to be found here on this earth. So embrace the sunshine and the clouds alike, bask in the beauty of whatever weather comes your way, and eagerly await the permanence of the place being prepared for you.

Survey: Christianity and Abortion

21 Feb

HELP
Hi everyone!

As you might know, I’m currently working on getting my Masters in Strategic Communications, which will be complete this August. Hooray! Anyway, one of my classes is Media Research & Analysis and I have to conduct a qualitative survey on a spiritual topic. So if you would like to participate, here is the survey! I appreciate your help with this!

Take my quick survey 🙂

Rambling of the Day: Why Phil Robertson deserves his suspension from A&E

20 Dec

Phil Robertson

I really was going to stay away from this topic, as I don’t even watch or care about “Duck Dynasty,” but as usual, I have an opinion burning a hole in my brain so here goes.

Here’s one of the statements that’s gotten Phil Robertson, the no-nonsense, self-proclaimed Bible-thumping star of “Duck Dynasty,” into trouble with A&E:

“‘Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,’ he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: ‘Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.’” Phil Robertson, quoted by Drew Magary, GQ Magazine

Alright, alright, let’s all settle back down into our seats and take a deep breath. I’ve done the article about how Christians need to change their mindsets about gay people, and you can read that here if you’d like, so I’m not going to reiterate all that information here. I’m just going to look at this at first from A&E’s perspective as a for-profit business, and then from the viewpoint of a Christian looking at this situation from the outside (as I said, I’m not a fan of the show nor do I know anything about the stars beyond what I read in mainstream news).

The statement released by A&E Wednesday says, “His [Robertson’s] personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supports and champions of the LGBT community.”

Honestly… I don’t see why people are surprised or somehow offended by A&E’s decision. It’s their network, their image and their reputation that’s at stake if they continue to have an affiliation with someone who expresses “anti-gay” sentiments (whether Robertson’s statements are actually anti-gay or just the ranting of someone too ignorant or thoughtless to know better is left up to interpretation).

If A&E has a legitimate issue with the things said by Robertson, then they have every right to suspend him from the show on their network. Because of the show’s popularity, it’s not like this is some kind of profit-making move on their part. They’ll probably lose a good amount of viewers to outrage over the decision. However, it’s their choice to make as a network, and therefore there’s really no good reason to be incensed by their choice. (And really, if you think this guy’s career is over just because one network suspended him, get real. This show is hugely popular and someone else is bound to scoop him up.)

I’ve heard a lot of chatter about how this is all an infringement on freedom of expression, but I find that ridiculous. Robertson is free to make any kind of comments he wants, unless they directly affect national security or the welfare of society. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t real-world consequences for publicly expressing a controversial opinion when you are employed by a company that doesn’t want to be affiliated with that opinion.

So for example, I work for a magazine that is not affiliated with any particular religion or religious organization. They do their best to appeal to everyone regardless of their religious beliefs. So if for some reason I decided to go on a rant about how horrible Jewish people are, and for some reason I decided to do this very openly in a publication I knew my employers at the magazine were sure to read, it is very likely I would lose my job over it. Oh, and I would deserve it. Because it doesn’t matter if I hate Jewish people (I don’t, by the way. This is an example.). Just because I have that opinion doesn’t mean that expressing it publicly—especially in a purposely degrading and lewd manner—isn’t going to cost me my career. It would, and there’s nothing about that fact that infringes upon my freedom of speech. Just because you have the right to say something does not mean that you should. You have to have the discretion to know when you’re crossing a line that might interfere with your professional life.

Moving beyond the freedom of speech argument though—the comments Robertson made are not exactly the shining beacon of Christian love and principle that some people are insinuating they are. The problem is not necessarily that Robertson believes homosexuality is a sin (read that other blog post if you want to read my opinion on that), but it’s the way in which he addresses it that I take issue with.

First of all, Robertson is not a psychologist. He has no evidence whatsoever that homosexuality “morphs out” into things like beastiality and sleeping around with tons of people. And even if he were a psychologist, that evidence does not exist. Being gay doesn’t inherently make you a slut, just as being straight doesn’t inherently make you a devoted partner (I think the divorce rate in this country can attest to that flawed logic). It’s insulting, cruel and just purely ignorant to say this of people who Robertson claims, in later statements, to love and not judge.

Another statement Robertson makes in the GQ story is this:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

Oh, okay, so homosexuality is not “logical.” I don’t suppose Robertson would see anything “illogical” about his heterosexual orientation. That’s right, he wouldn’t, because that’s something that’s ingrained within him, so strongly it may as well be DNA. He feels so strongly that heterosexual sex is the only way to go that it’s like second nature to him. Congratulations, Mr. Robertson, you’ve found the secret to human sexuality—it’s second nature, it’s a vital essence of who we are, it’s so much of our identity that we can’t be separated from it. So how do you think a gay person feels when you say that his instinct not to have heterosexual relationships is “illogical”? Probably like he’s somehow less than human than you are. This is why that old ridiculous “love the sinner, hate the sin” adage has just become an eye-roller to the gay community. They don’t want or need that pity-inducing sentiment. And the idea that Robertson can go from making that degrading and unfounded assumption and then go on to say “I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me” is totally hypocritical.

Now, I’m going to let up on Robertson for a minute here to say that I don’t know what’s in his heart. Maybe he just had a moment and didn’t think about the implications of what he was actually saying and how hurtful his words would be to the gay community. And perhaps he really isn’t a judgmental person (although it’s hard to believe considering what he said). But even if he’s actually a great Christian guy, making statements like these that come off as purposely demeaning to gays and in no way show the love of Jesus only does a disservice to the Christian community.

Christians get enough of a hard time that we don’t need people claiming ridiculous things in the name of our Creator that, very simply, Jesus would never have said. Disagree with me? Come on now. Quite frankly, Jesus was never sarcastic, degrading or cruel when he spoke to the broken people he chose as his followers, nor was he condescending to the hurting people who came to him for healing. He would never have said, “Hey, why do you like ass? Vagina is better.” No—Jesus stared in the face of Pharisees who tried to call him out for eating with “tax collectors and sinners,” telling them, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’”

Why I’m Not Dating My Best Friend

22 Oct
My best friend, who I'm not dating.

My best friend, who I’m not dating.

Are you in love with your best friend? Maybe dating or married to your best friend? You’re not alone if you are—it’s apparently trendy and super common to be romantically involved with someone you also refer to as your “best friend.” It’s funny that we can hear a word or phrase used so many times that it becomes commonplace and even cute to us, even if we haven’t really thought about it.

This one caught me off guard the other day; I’ve seen it on Facebook and other social media plenty of times, but I actually heard it—verbally heard it—in a commercial for a TV show, and it hit me how totally whack that concept is. I’m not dating my best friend any more than I am parenting my best friend. It drives me absolutely bonkers when someone refers to her mother as her best friend, and it now officially is another pet peeve of mine to hear that someone is romantically involved with her best friend. I’m not just being picky and obnoxious for no reason. Hear me out.

Here are some facts about my best friend:

  1. She knows EVERYTHING about me, for better or worse. Literally everything—down to the body parts I’m most self-conscious about, the deepest secrets of my past, and my weirdest thoughts and dreams.
  2. I love her to death, but I am in no way, shape or form romantically attracted to her.
  3. We agree on pretty much everything.
  4. We can give each other a look and essentially have a conversation.
  5. We have lived together for long periods of time, and it’s totally peaceful. We’re a roommate match made in Heaven.

Now, here are some facts about my boyfriend:

  1. He knows me well. He knows my hopes and dreams; he knows the things I’m good at, the things that make me happy. He certainly knows what pisses me off. But he doesn’t know EVERYTHING. Because he doesn’t need to. It doesn’t benefit our relationship for me to tell him my every insecurity, every bad hookup I ever had and every weird thought that’s every surfaced in my mind.
  2. I’m totally attracted to him romantically. Duh.
  3. We disagree all the time. We agree on the big things, like how we want to raise our family, what our goals are as a couple and what ultimately matters at the end of the day. But unlike my best friend, who’ll pat me on the back and tell me of course it’s okay to hate that girl for no reason, my boyfriend will totally call me out for being petty, bitchy or otherwise unreasonable. He will openly disagree with me when he thinks I’m wrong. And consequently we’ll argue for hours. But that’s okay, cause we aren’t supposed to agree on everything. He’s not my best friend.
  4. Sometimes, I have absolutely no clue what he’s thinking. Likewise, sometimes it completely amazes him that I could be so absurd and unreasonable. Sometimes I give him a look of “OMG how could you” and he hasn’t the vaguest idea what I mean by it. We do not have a mind-reader relationship going on at all. Guess what this leads to? You got it—we have to actually converse with one another, oftentimes at high decibel ranges, to understand each other.
  5. I am excited for my future with him, but totally dreading the move-in process. I think he’s a slob; he thinks I expect too much. We make no sense together. It’s going to be a daily struggle to co-exist in the same home. Hopefully it’ll be a learning process that brings us closer together, but we’ll just have to see.

Okay, these discrepancies aren’t meant to prove that my boyfriend is necessarily the opposite of my best friend. Of course, they do have some things in common. We all enjoy AMC shows and beach days and road trips. That’s not the point. The point is that my best friend isn’t the same person to me as my boyfriend is, in the same way that she isn’t the same person to me as my child is. My child needs me as a guide, a mentor, a leader and a caretaker. My boyfriend needs me as a partner, a lover, a confidante and a copilot. My best friend? She doesn’t need me at all. She’s in my life purely because we love each other and enjoy sharing our thoughts and feelings with each other. She’s a hand to hold and an ear to listen, but she’s not my knight in shining armor or the person I’m going to be building a future with.

My boyfriend will never become my best friend, and I’m okay with that. My best friend does her job perfectly and no one, including the man I plan to spend the rest of my life with, will replace her role in my life.

Rambling of the Day: Babes in gangland

28 Aug

Here’s the headline that bit me in the butt this morning: Kids brave gangland as Chicago budget cuts redraw route to school. Holy cow. So if you haven’t been paying attention, the word is Chicago is broke and had to close 50 elementary schools and lay off 2,000 teachers last month. The result is that the kids from those schools have to attend different schools this year, many of which are blocks away with walking routes that cut through multiple gang territories.

“Most of Chicago’s cuts have taken place in the predominantly poor, African-American and Latino south and west sides, which is also where the majority of the city’s record 506 murders occurred last year.” Neil Munshi, Financial Times.

So… reading this, I instantly had three big questions come to mind. 1) Why is Chicago so broke? 2) Why is Chicago so dangerous and violent? 3) HOW in the bleepity bleep bleep is hiring a bunch of citizen sentries along so-called “Safe Passage” routes going to keep kids safe?!

So why is Chicago broke? That’s pretty simple: The state of Illinois has basically been run entirely by Democrats since 2003. That’s 10 years of unrelenting progressive abuse. Like they have in Detroit, progressive policies, including an insane amount of welfare programs and unfunded union and government pensions, have left the state devastated. So why do the same people keep get elected to run Chicago? Well, according to NBC Chicago, “Illinois’ GOP has become irrelevant because of its association with the national Republican brand: white and rural, with a desire to bring religion into public life, and a belief that the government has no business telling people how many guns they can own.” Oh, yeah right. It’s amazing how much trouble conservatives get into when they try to stereotype the left, but liberals can call us Bible-thumping, gun-wielding hicks any time and it’s acceptable. Regardless, the fact that Republicans in Illinois are white and religious has nothing to do with them losing elections in the state. That’s nonsense invented to distract people from the truth: that conservatives don’t support the growth and expansion of entitlement programs and other rubbish that keep the impoverished slums of Chicago from ever improving. The same policies that sent Detroit into bankruptcy – despite massive government assistance, including the auto bailout – are plummeting Chicago’s economy to certain ruin.

Why is it so dangerous to live in Chicago? Also a fairly simple answer: Chicago is a war zone. It isn’t just any ordinary war zone, however. It’s one in which the good guys are unarmed.

“Illinois remains the only state in the country where nobody can legally carry a concealed weapon…” Charlie Vidal, policymic.

Chicago has 59 gangs divided up into 625 factions with 125,000 members. Go here to see a map of the gang territories in respect to where schools are located. It is thoroughly disturbing.

Between the unbelievable number of gang members and the drug war that includes ties to a Mexican cartel, essentially the only armed people in Chicago are criminals and police officers. If you go through a complicated process, you can legally keep a gun in your home. However, only three percent of Chicagoans who own a firearm have even completed the city’s required firearm registration. Regardless, it is unlawful for the citizens of Chicago to arm themselves on their war-torn streets. The result is that the dangerous criminals of Chicago have a monopoly on illegal weapons, and, tragically, that Chicago is now the deadliest city in America.

So we have the deadliest city in America closing 50 of its elementary schools, many of which are in the poorest, most gang-ridden and violent areas, and what is the benevolent mayor’s solution? “Safe passage” – routes to the schools manned by adults armed with, what was that again? Oh yeah, walkie talkies. For many families affected by school closings, they will be sending their children through one or more gang territories to reach their destinations. Two people were already shot along the safe passage routes the day before school began. One was a 14-year-old boy who was within a block of an elementary school.

My assessment? Chicago is run by idiots, particularly that idiot Rahm Emanuel. Mr. Emanuel, if your kids had to walk through gang territories to get to their elementary schools, would you still be gung-ho on “Safe Passage?” Would it be good enough that the adults “supervising” their passage were armed only with walkie talkies?

Chicago needs to grow some balls. Get rid of the outrageous pensions that are sucking the economy dry. Make it harder to sit pretty on welfare. Make it better to work than to get a handout. Put the lives of children ahead of stupid policy ideals like gun control. The only guns being controlled are the ones sitting in people’s homes, not being used to save lives. I want our country to look at Chicago, our own personal third world within a first world, and DO SOMETHING about it. Stop focusing on Egypt and Syria. Yes, their problems are bad, but we need to clean up our own damn house before we start interfering with other people’s problems. Obama’s drawn a red line for Syria, but where’s his red line for his own hometown?! Mr. Obama, you are so devastated by the death of one black teenager in the suburbs of Florida, but what about the deaths of countless of innocents in your old stomping grounds? Why aren’t you outraged about that?

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