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Does Mothers’ Day do more harm than good?

Sitting in the pew, I was struck by how many women around me could easily be hurt by my glib “Happy Mothers’ Day” wishes. Within our church family, and among just my smallest circle of friends, I recognize several whose experience with this day is part sorrow.

Donna and her mother Gerry are still deeply grieving over the loss of Donna’s brother about two years ago. I winced inwardly as I wished Gerry a happy day. My elderly neighbor and mother of my next-door childhood pal has lost two of her three children.

Joan lost her young adult daughter unexpectedly, whose life looked full of promise. Our church family was stunned by the loss and her memorial service was easily the largest in many decades.

Then there’s Kay, who lives a life of service to everyone around her to an incredible degree. She must be the encourager in her daughter’s life while carrying her own double sorrow. Daughter Samantha was blessed to celebrate just one happy, careless Mother’s Day but all remaining Mother’s Days, for the rest of her life, will be days of mourning. What does one say to her on this day?

I was thinking of the friends whose adult children have walked away from relationship with them. Some have simply allowed distance to become the default while others have been explicitly cruel.

I was thinking of the countless who feel the loss of their own mothers keenly. My friend Beth, who stepped up to help us take care of my mother because she cared for her own mother until she lost her three or four years ago, still cannot speak about her Mom without tears.

I was thinking of the women who’ve experienced the pain of infertility and the surrendering of hopes and expectations, assaulted by smug broadcast well-wishes.

Compare the numbers of women who can celebrate this day thoughtlessly, with no shadow of sorrow, to those for whom this is a remembrance of loss, either of children or mothers.

We careless surely must be in the minority. I wonder if we ought to observe Mother’s Day differently, more soberly, with more respect for those who’ve lost so much. Or should we get rid of it altogether?

Limited Thinking via Politics

My younger friends won’t realize this, but it is not normal in culture for everything to be political. Today, there is no field, no context, no issue which is not automatically interpreted through a political perspective.

Thus thinking is limited, boxed in, flattened. That is only one facet of the negative.

When the critical mass of culture has dismissed God from their point of view, people look for a substitute provider of meaning, values, and a moral standard. Into the vacuum rushes politics.

There is nothing more useful to people who desire power. Nothing which so easily satisfies our virtue-signaling needs with so little personal effort. Nothing more sociopathic in the pursuit of opportunism. Politics is the lazy sub for the excellent teacher, theology. Politics does not hold me personally accountable as does God.

Here’s an interesting perspective:  Bombing on Stage: Comedy as Political Resistance

But  the best irony of the newfound-under-Trump-activist bent is that its proponent doesn’t realize he’s being used by the corporate entity in which journalism-is-comedy-is-advertising. So used. The comedian works for the news network, which is one outlet of the same corporation which doles out the news and the advertisements. They all imbibe the same worldview within their media fortress; news is truly manufactured in the service of mass-marketed commentary which is designed to mold and drive public opinion, no longer covertly but openly in paternership with the most powerful political persons. All media is not only connected, but working together to drive you to the voting booth and help you pull the right lever; to drive you to the market to buy the right product; to drive you to order your life in the rigid manner the powers that be see most fit.

To drive you to think the thoughts they approve and no others.

Stephen Colbert is not some brilliant guy who just happens to have found irreverence a formula for success. He’s a hack, working for corporate BUSINESS figures to produce a certain result. One result being your unexamined loyalty to said figures’ interests. Do you wonder that your news journalists and your comedians rarely differ? Even their chosen wording is eerily similar. Your newsfeed panders to your most self-affirming social issues. And wonder of wonders, the ads on the side column of your fave social media place just happen to be pushing you to buy the accompanying product to your political/social bent.

Hillary literally bought media mouths and outlets during her campaign. There was no longer any illusion of independent thinking or critical judgement. How can anyone–anyone!–still follow the party she represents when critical thinking, individual thinking, and intelligent thinking are actually excluded?

 

 

The Cost of Forgiveness

To forgive is to take upon yourself the pain of the offense and to desire that your offender be spared the pain of guilt.

Forgiveness always costs the forgiver.

Forgiving costs the one who was offended. Our example is Jesus, who took all the pain and humiliation for all of our offenses, and spared us the guilt. He was totally blameless; we are the offenders. He suffered for our crimes and shielded us from the consequences.

“Mercy and forgiveness must be free and unmerited to the wrongdoer. If the wrongdoer has to do something to merit it, then it isn’t mercy, but forgiveness always comes at a cost to the one granting the forgiveness.” Timothy Keller

For us, forgiveness is almost incomprehensible. True forgiveness requires something of us beyond our natural human capacity. Even to conceive of real forgiveness, we need the help of God’s example, and the empowerment of His presence within us.

The Wrong Side of History

Re-posting from awhile ago.

Let’s not be on the wrong side of history. I say this because I like to hope that some future people who descend from us will have rediscovered the moral compass, learned to honor objective justice, found the Truth. If so, they will look back at us and be appalled at our indolence, our indifference in the face of genocidal baby slaughter.

There can be no escape for us as a people.  Multiplied millions of murdered children cannot go unanswered by the conscience of any possible belief system. Only an utter nihilist could deny that the scales will ultimately be balanced and we will be found wanting. A universe which assigns no meaning and passes no judgment upon endless human carnage is an absurd nightmare.

The activities of Planned Parenthood are completely indefensible. If we cannot purge this corporate atrocity from our society, we do not deserve to call ourselves civilized, moral, or even good humans.

I do realize that all abortions are not chosen in as careless a manner as PP advocates that they should be. It may be, for many women, that all available medical advice was to terminate and try again. They may have grieved terribly over having to lose a child they wanted…Or they may have aborted for more elective reasons but felt unaccountably uncomfortable about it after. I realize that there are many women who were urged to abort for what seemed like unarguable reasons.

That’s the problem. If the default of our society  is to err on the side of death in order to solve our problems, and women are confronted with life-and-death decisions when they are at their most vulnerable…death becomes the predetermined result.

Then all those women, as well as their children, become victims of opportunistic corporate interests, and the aggrandizement of relentless political interests. The best and most well-meaning solution that such a society can offer is death as panacea.

Such a value system is inadequate to meet the needs of real life. In real life, unexpected stuff happens, lives are in danger, less than perfect decisions have to be made. If the overarching goal in the face of the unexpected is to get back to our comfort and our plans, no matter what the damage, those decisions will be brutal.

We need cultural change. We need to be honest enough to admit what is clearly before us.  We need to value Truth. We need to be willing to call evil, evil; and good, good.  We need to be a culture which values all human life and devalues none.

When difficult situations come, as they will, our impulse ought to be an honest search for a solution which protects and honors all involved. Our default should not be death for the defenseless ones.

Truth and One Application

Truth matters absolutely. The nature of truth requires that I value truth before my own preferences. Truths are true no matter that I ignore or disagree with them.

Here is a simple truth on a particular subject. Human life has intrinsic value and meaning. Its Creator and Designer has clearly expressed this truth, in both word and action. *

Here is a conclusion which I draw from that truth: if you are a supporter of legal abortion or Planned Parenthood, you are making a truth claim against the intrinsic value of all human beings.

You are claiming that human beings receive their value extrinsically; that we each are granted value from another party outside of ourselves. You are claiming that value is granted by an outside entity according its own standard.

You are a defender of the belief that some people are valuable, and that other people are not valuable. Which means that human lives are not valuable in themselves.

Indeed you are claiming that no human being is intrinsically valuable.

Not the unborn fetus, not you, not me, not anyone.

This won’t be news to those pro-abortion supporters who are honest or who rise above the virtue-signaling level of activism. They will say that  the unborn have no rights that we are bound to respect. Dred Scott meet Hillary Clinton.

And so, you and I are living in a world in which we each receive our value from something outside of ourselves. I have some limited power to assert that I matter; some people are better at convincing others of their value than other people are; some people have no power at all. Compare a charismatic sociopath to a disabled newborn–who wins?

One who negates the value given by the Creator of all things is in a difficult place when asked to justify human life in an objective way.

People who are thoughtful believers in Jesus Christ have a fundamental understanding that every single human being who was ever conceived has intrinsic and equal value. That value is not subjectively granted or acquired.

You who are pro-choice believe you’re virtuous because you care about the rights of women so much that you assert that they have an absolute right to societal approval and public funding of their abortions. Even while this right is exercised at the cost of many millions of human lives.

I believe it is virtuous to value the lives of all women and all unborn, that they all have intrinsic value, that they all have the right to life that has been given by their Creator; and that when we deprive any of that life, we violate an eternal law. We deny an eternal truth.

But let’s put aside the divine element for a second, as you would have it.

You pit one life against the other.  You must do that if you believe that value is conferred rather than already present. Whose rights win the contest? is your context. You believe in a zero-sum proposition: one has value or the other does, and we must choose. But what is your solution if both have equal value that we must honor?

And since there is no absolute or objective conferrer of value, who will we respect as worthy to grant worth to us? This is a question you cannot dismiss. Someone will come along and claim that right, and assert the power we’ve given him. We’ve seen that movie many times, and the results are always tragic, ugly, and anything but virtuous.

  • God stating that human beings have value:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13: 8-10

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. Psalm 127

“Cursed be anyone who takes a bribe to shed innocent blood.” And all the people shall say, “Amen.”  Deut 27:25

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  Psalm 139: 13

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:16

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2: 3-4

 

Why The Resurrection Matters

From Elihu’s Corner: what Easter is all about.

Elihu's Corner

IMG_3051Some may ask why the resurrection is essential to our faith. Why can’t we just believe Jesus was a good teacher and follow His teachings? Why does it matter whether He had divine power?

If there was no resurrection, what do we have beyond this life?

If there was no resurrection, our Savior has no power to save.

If there was no resurrection, being a Christian is downright crazy.

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

~ 1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:17-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Jesus’ disciples walked with Him for 3 years. Show-stopping miracles were a regularity. The blind saw. The deaf heard. The lame walked. Demons fled. The disciples bore…

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