Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Contentment in a Sin Cursed World

Photo credit: Selfie by exfordy

A child dies of hunger every few seconds and I am content.

The sentence shocks because contentment is misunderstood to be complacency. Complacency means being unmoved when evil is revealed. Sadly, it is far too easy for me to be complacent. I pray to God for compassion. I want to overcome evil. I do not seek to be complacent.

I am content when I am satisfied with what I have. I am complacent when I am satisfied with what others have.

I want every person on the planet to have wholesome food and water. I pray that they will have comfortable clothing and shelter. I long for peace and joy in every life.

I know I am content when I am thankful for the many good things in my life. I know I am complacent when I make no effort to help others enjoy good things.

Stealing from the rich and giving to the poor is a flawed notion. It depends too much on the thief's ability to discern how material wealth would be best distributed. Even a democratic approach to taking from the wealthy requires that the majority have a clear vision of who deserves what they have and who does not. It is all too easy for each of us to decide that what we have is "about right" and that if others have much more, they are rich. Furthermore, this sort of redistribution is focused on material goods. Those goods are necessary but never sufficient.

Giving is far more powerful than taking. I can give material goods. I can also give affection and encouragement. I can show patience and forgiveness. In short, I can love. Love conquers all.

I must not live my life insisting that others love more. Rather, I must realize that I do not love as I could. I can always give more. I can be more patient. I can forgive more readily.

God is love. I must seek to know God better so that I can love more and be content with less.

I have much to learn and much to do. May God grant me wisdom and strength.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Culture and Fashion; Good and Evil

Sumo in Hawaii by hellochris

A four hundred pound man in an industrial strength thong bows with his back to you. At a park with your kids, you might think about calling the cops. But at a Sumo match, it's simply a memorable moment in a grand spectacle which includes the little guy in a bathrobe and pointy hat. It's a glimpse of Japanese culture and centuries old fashions. It's as if you made a little hole in time and space and peeked through it. Hopefully you will not be offended. Instead, pat your self on the back for embracing diversity.
cellphone gladiator by newlow
Now walk out of that match and chuckle a bit as you see a gladiator in full regalia pausing for a cell phone chat and smoke break.

Nice. Another colorful outfit and glimpse of another culture. But when you walk around the corner. A still warm corpse in a pool of blood indicates that the gladitorial reinactment included a fight to the death. Authentic, but unacceptable. This time you will call the cops.

But wait, are you simply narrow minded? Isn't this just another look through a tear in the space-time continuum? You have read about gladiators. You have seen movies depicting their fights to the death. This time it is simply a lot more real.

I doubt you would dither. You'd call 911. Some aspects of another culture are o.k. You can put up with being mooned by a fat guy. But you wouldn't countenance homicide or even man-slaughter.
Is it colorful or is it criminal? It's a decision that we must make from time to time. Shorts and a tube top are colorful in California. They are criminal in Saudi Arabia. Add a veil to a Victorian woman's garb and she could walk unmolested in Riyadh. How can we know if there has been an evil change in culture or a benign fashion shift. Does it really depend on who you ask?

Alfred Stevens: In Memoriam photo by

The outfit below would bring a swarm of police in Riyadh. :

Mini Jupe by Carolco

Culture and fashion cannot dictate what is good and what is evil. Good and evil have to do with the state of your heart and not the particulars of your garb. Only God can see the true state of your heart and compare it to his own.

May God have mercy on us all when we presume to know the heart after only seeing the outfit. Time and relationship may reveal a bit more of a person's heart.

A glance never suffices.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

You Couldn't Make This Stuff Up

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus Leucocephalus)by Savannah Grandfather

So a couple of dozen of us are sitting in a circle under the big blue sky, singing worship songs. As I look across at Barbara, a bald eagle swoops down to roost on a tree directly behind her. Some crows assault the eagle. Barbara runs along the riverside until she can spot the eagle flying away. A few minutes after she sits back down, a sparrow lands on a chair in our circle. Then it flits over and lands on Barbara's head. She flaps her arms wildly. Too bad says Juliana, our Brazilian friend, I pray everyday for a bird to land on my head and crap on it. It's very good luck in Brazil. Still, even just having a bird land on you is very good fortune. All this plus our brother, a doctor, tells us how he worked as a barker at a carnival when he was 10 (before he graduated to be snake man in the freak show). His dad died when he was four and he was eager to make some money. Later we all laughed as a four pound beef roast burst into flame on Rick's BBQ grill. He handles it just fine. I smell like wood smoke and haven't showered for a couple of days. But I am enjoying eating rice cooked by our pregnant Filipino friend while I wait for a slightly charred piece of Kielbasa and some potato chips. Then we all rolled up our tents and drove away.

I'm not making this up. You couldn't make this stuff up.