Monday, April 25, 2016

How Can You Call Yourself a Christian?

It seems like every day I see another example of hypocrisy.  Frequently, it's on the news: another candidate who claims to be a Christian is threatening all kinds of horrible things that he or she will do to other people if we elect him/her.  But often it is closer to home - much closer to home.

I'm speaking now of a Catholic family.  One whose children went to Catholic schools, who are ultra-conservative, and who frequently request that their Facebook friends pray for them.  But then, when their son died a few weeks ago, they published an obituary which pointedly left out the name of his wife of 20 years as a survivor.  Is this what Jesus would do?

Perhaps this woman did things that did not sit well with her husband's parents.  That would be understandable, since the son himself could never stand up to his father.  His wife, however, was a strong woman who did not suffer fools.  So, yes, maybe they are mad at her.  But isn't forgiveness part of the Christian doctrine?  Did their son not choose this woman to be his wife until he died?  Can they not respect that choice and give her the respect she deserves?  It is clear, in this final act, that the father still could not simply love his son unconditionally.

Oh, did I mention that the wife was the primary care-taker for the son as he dealt with the complications of a brain tumor, finally confined to a wheel-chair, and in a nursing home.  Thank God for people like her - not people like his birth family.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Why Do You Have to Be So Mean?

My husband's brother had two children, Matthew and Melinda, while my husband chose not to have any.  So, he was always close to his nieces and nephews throughout their lives.  His nephew, Matt, had a brain tumor when he was 26 years old, and had surgery and radiation treatment at the time - which is now over 30 years ago.

Matt worked hard, got a master's degree, and worked for AT&T for many years.  He married and had a son, John.  As so often happens these days, they divorced and John went to live with his mother.  By this time, Matt's father hated the woman who divorced his son, and therefore he never had a relationship with his grandson, either.

At church one Sunday, Matthew met a vivacious woman with long dark hair and a smile that would make you happy just looking at her.  She was a single mom with two small children, and Matt was a lonely young man looking for a family.  They married and loved each other for over 20 years.  His father was now a happy man, seeing his son happy after so much pain, right?  Oh, no!  Dad was convinced that "she only married him for his money."  What money?  Matt worked a middle management job and probably was able to invest in a 401K, pretty much what anyone else was doing at the time.  Not going to become a millionaire like that.  And his wife's ex-husband took care of his share of the expenses for their two children, so it's not like Matt had to assume the entire burden of raising the two.

Eventually, a few years ago, scar tissue formed in Matt's brain at the site of his tumor surgery.  He began to lose function in several ways, and became unable to work.  His wife carried on, running the household, caring for Matt and her two children and working full-time.  She was the best caretaker anyone could hope for - she did what was absolutely necessary, but allowed Matt to do anything that he possibly could for himself.  When it became dangerous to leave him alone in the house, she found the best nursing home for him, close to their home so she could see him every day.

Matt's parents visited their son once a year.  His sister, Melinda, visited occasionally, but she had two daughters and a husband and a job at home in a far-away state.  A few weeks ago, Matt suffered a massive seizure and died.  Even though his death was unexpected, no one would have wished that he had lived longer and declined further.

Matthew's family is going to have a small, private service in their home town.  His wife intends to take his ashes up in the mountains where they spent so many happy hours together.  Matt's father and sister want to have another memorial service where they live, even though Matt hadn't been there for over 30 years.  Today they published an obituary for Matt.

The obituary praised Matt for being a wonderful son, brother, father, and uncle.  Wait, I had to read that again.  No husband?  Matt was married when he died, his wife of 20+ years totally ignored.  Then, the obit mentioned Matt being survived by his parents, his sister and husband and two nieces, and a son and grandson - but no WIFE!  How can people be so cruel?  I am so ashamed to call them in-laws.  They are out-laws to me.

Matt loved his wife.  He loved his step-children.  And they loved him.  We visited them several times and saw how happy their lives were.  The only thing tarnishing their lives was the disapproval and nastiness of Matt's family.  And now it continues even after that sweet boy's death.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

If Only Every Country Would Do This

Australian Group Calls For Boycott Of U.S. Until America Fixes Its Gun Laws

 OCT 4, 2015 1:44PM
Samantha Lee, director of Gun Control Australia.

In the wake of yet another mass shooting in America, there are a lot of Australians unhappy with the United States. America has failed, they note, to implement any gun control measures to prevent these recurring tragedies — no background check expansions, no bans on larger assault weapons, no nothing.
But besides expressing disgust and leading by example, is there anything Australians can actually do about it?
One group thinks there is. In an interview on Australia’s Today Show, Gun Control Australia director Samantha Lee suggested a boycott of non-essential travel to America to protest its inaction on gun control.
“We have 2.1 million Australians visiting the U.S. every year and over 200,000 expats in America,” Lee said. “So I believe we have a duty to respond to this tragedy in the U.S. And the way to do this is have a boycott of non-essential travel to the U.S.”
Though there’s been no indication yet that Australians will boycott travel over America’s inaction on gun control, Australians have been calling out the U.S. for not responding to gun massacres the way their country did two decades ago. In 1996, after a man went on a rampage with a semi-automatic rifle and killed 35 people, Australia banned high-powered rifles and enacted strict licensing requirements.
Since then, Australia has seen no mass shootings, which are defined as five or more people being shot. And millions of Australians still own guns.
In his address to the country following last week’s mass shooting at an Oregon community college, President Obama cited Australia as an example of a country with common sense gun laws. On the Today Show, Lee said Australia should “act as an international community to assist Obama to push those laws through Congress.”
Gun deaths in Australia decreased significantly after the country reformed their gun laws.
Gun deaths in Australia decreased significantly after the country reformed their gun laws.
“Having criminal record checks, and mental health checks, and increasing security checks in schools,” Lee said. “This is in no way radical in terms of Australia and our gun laws.”
Lee also suggested that Australia ban donations from the firearms industry to their political parties, which she said would “allow us to raise that issue with America to ban donations from the gun lobby.”
The gun rights lobby has spent considerably more influencing U.S. policy than the gun control lobby.
The gun rights lobby has spent considerably more influencing U.S. policy than the gun control lobby.
“Millions of dollars are donated by the [National Rifle Association], particularly to the Republican party [in America],” she said, lamenting the “cozy relationship” between the gun lobby and politicians in both countries. “In Australia, we need to be cautious that we also don’t take any donations from the firearms industry, and we need to raise this issue with the U.S.”
Led by the NRA, gun rights activists have spent millions of dollars influencing U.S. politics, though more of their money goes toward lobbying for and against legislation than to actual candidates. The top recipients of contributions from the gun rights lobby include current House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), according to the Boston Globe.
But even though millions of Australians have guns, conservatives have been decrying Obama’s attempt to look to countries like Australia for inspiration on gun control. On Fox News on Sunday, Clayton Morris asserted that Australian citizens “aren’t allowed to have guns.” “They also have no freedom!” another host retorted.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

The Face of God

Had a conversation yesterday with an old man who has lived here for 50 years.  He told of working with a well driller back a few years who was a genius at finding water.  He was so good, in fact, that they would arrive at a site in the morning, he would decide where to drill, they would set up the rig, and have water by lunchtime.  A quick bite, a pee, maybe a smoke and then off to drill another well before dark.  

The old man said he had thought long and hard about God in his life, and had learned working with the driller that Water is the Face of God.  Nothing lives without water, Water is the trinity: vapor, liquid, solid.  We are composed of Water and a few other chemicals, everything you see outside your window contains Water.  He said he goes to church for the music and the food sometimes, but when he wants to feel the presence of God, he goes for a walk.