Archives For culture

 

Do you ever become discouraged by current events in your community, country and world?  Do you wonder why things are the way they are?  Why people treat each other, treat you horribly?  I was reading St. Paul this morning and his discussion about what happens when people reject God and his plan for this world and for their lives.

 

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.  They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,  slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;  they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.  Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

That describes an awful lot of what goes on around us on a daily basis, doesn’t it?  I was particularly struck by “they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.”  People can be so cruel, so cut throat.

As Christ followers are called to live out a different lifestyle.  As St. Paul also wrote:

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love.  For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  .  .  .  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  .  .  .  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

So we shouldn’t be surprised by why things are the way they are, why our culture is the way it is. But we don’t have to become like the culture.  We are called and empowered by the Spirit to live differently.  Will we follow that calling?  That is a choice we must make every day.

You know how you have those memories that are indelibly imprinted in your mind?  The past 24 hours has surfaced a number of those in my life.  The first is the anniversary of the tragedy that occurred on 9/11/01.  Probably the majority of us remember exactly where we were when we first heard the news.  I was driving down Mineral Point Road, approaching the light at South Gammon Road when I heard the announcement on the radio that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  At that point, they didn’t even know the type of plane it was — whether a large jet or a light aircraft.  And they did not yet have an inkling of the real scope of what was about to unfold.  Although my memory is notoriously deficient, many of the details of that entire day are seared in my  memory.

Today a whole new set of memories flooded  my mind when I read the news of the savage and brutal attacks on our embassy in Libya and the ensuing murder of United States Citizens, including the ambassador.  Do you remember when the U.S. Embassy in Iran was attacked and the occupants held as hostages?  I sure do.  Iranian students played a key role in that attack.  There was also a very large contingent of Iranian students studying in the Universities here in the U.S.  Although I was still in high school, I had a brother away at a University where many of the students were quite vocal about supporting the revolution in Iran.  I worried about he and his families safety.  Of course memories of the hostage crisis invoke memories of the policies of President Carter.  And not just foreign policy memories like the bumbling of the hostage situation.  But domestic memories.

I remember standing at the counter of the post office filling out my selective service form.  The Iranian hostage crisis had ended just a few months before and memories of the not so distant Vietnam war played in my mind.  Although the draft had ended around 1973, President Carter had recently decided that all young men such as myself should be registered “just in case.”  Since I was the second oldest in my high school senior class, I was in the vanguard of my peers – many of whom were being pressured to register as “CO” due to their religious heritage/beliefs.  I will never forget the weight of that moment, the soberness of that occasion.  The knowledge that I could be called upon to give my life for my country and for my kin.

I remember where I was standing (the bedroom in the NW corner of our home) when I realized my dream of farming was dead on arrival due to inflation rates in the teens and interest rates around 20%.

All of these memories flood my mind today.  They illicit so many questions, and uncover so many concerns.  Concerns for our country, for our future.  More specifically, concerns for my wife, for my children, and for their future.  What does our future hold?  Does it hold additional armed conflict in the middle east or other parts of the globe?  Increased economic instability here at home?  Or are these concerns all for naught?

Throughout the ages, men have faced times of crisis, times of difficulty, times of uncertainty.  But the question still remains: how will we step up to each of these occasions?  What is the proper response at a time such as this?  How do we as men, as father’s, as husbands, prepare, protect and lead at times such as these?  For the Christian man, I think this questions is doubly difficult. We seek to follow the teachings of Christ from within a culture that in many ways has become Christ-less.  We seek to differentiate the clamoring cries of the culture warriors from the quiet voice of Christ.

The choices each of makes in how we approach these times of crisis, difficulty, and uncertainty will greatly affect the future of our family and our community – for better or for worse.  Our culture specializes in slogans, bumper sticker philosophies and quick  fixes.  But the real answers for questions like these at times like these are far more complex.  Answers that often seem inadequate, or frail.  Answers that rely partly on faith, partly on wisdom, partly on experience.  Answers that are often forged in the fire of experience. Answers that may be best learned, formed and articulated amongst a group of men who are committed to God, to family and to each other.

What do you think?  I’m interested in your thoughts.

 

Love.  Everyone is in love with love, but I fear that few really know or understand what love really is.  And few are those who are able to fully demonstrate the depths of deep, profound love.  How does one explain true love to a culture raised on a Hollywood version of love?  A culture that imbibes much of their world view from such renowned sources as People Magazine?  Jesus was masterful at telling stories to arrest his audience’s attention and causing them to think.  Stories are wonderful vehicles to touch our soul, our emotions and challenge our worldview. 

Today I want to share with you a story that demonstrates a deep, genuine, faithful, sacrificial, giving love.  It’s a story I read over at the Internet Monk.  And its a story that challenges me with the question my cousin posed to me a while back.  Do I love God and love others for my sake?  Or for their sake? 

Marge died today.
A petite, pretty octogenarian, she had been wandering in the world of Alzheimer dementia for many years. I’ve known her for a few of those years, at least I’ve known the lady who rarely sat still, who moved continually from one place to another, looking out the windows, fluffing and straightening the pillows, and then sitting down for a moment, her knees rising and falling as her legs bounced incessantly. Then it was up again, muttering this or that, moving like a tumbleweed blowing across the floor, rarely at rest, moved by some mysterious wind.
“Pleasantly confused” we’d write in our notes, because she’d smile, say a few words that may or may not make sense, give you her hand, and then rise to move about some more.
But today there she lay, still as can be.
Joe, her husband, in the immediate aftermath of her death, seemed a bit lost without her to chase around. His carefully maintained routine had now reached its end.
Joe is also a mover, an actor, a doer. He took care of Marge for a long time. Though he has twenty five years on me I never thought of him as being “old.” He had been an athlete in high school and college, still has most of his hair, and he moves energetically around the house. The military had given him a lot — discipline, plain and direct speech, self-confidence and good habits, a profound sense of duty, and impeccable organization skills. He is a smart man too. Joe had worked for the phone company and he is a master at diagnosing and fixing problems. With all his gifts, he still has an easy, “aw shucks” down-home Hoosier personality. He’s always smiling, quick with a story or a saying, or a “can I get you something?” offer. Then he’s off on the move again, serving his wife by keeping the routine going.
Most of all, he loves Marge.
I don’t mean he is sentimental or romantic. He may be, but I have not seen that side of him. What I have witnessed is the essence of what I take love to be: being with and for another for that person’s benefit.

Read the rest of this moving story of love here.