Generational Warfare

Last weekend I heard this term used in reference to our presence in the Middle East…the thought that we might be looking at “generational warfare.”

I have to admit–I was appalled!

That is exactly what we are currently facing–generation after generation who have grown up knowing no other option than warfare… And that is not the dream or the hope that I have for our involvement with other peoples!

To even consider the thought that the next generation–or two…or three–may grow up expecting to find themselves involved in some nebulous war with some unseen presence in some country thousands of miles away–that some of this country’s leaders see no other option than that–is one of the most frightening things I have heard.

It is too heavy a cost…in too many ways.

  • Too many lives are lost and dreams diminished. Not just American lives, but all lives–all are valuable.
  • We mortgage our future.
  • Monies that could–and should–have been spent on helping to educate…feed…house…are spent instead on materials with no purpose other than to destroy.
  • We begin to see those who are not “like us” as fundamentally flawed–as evil in some way.
  • Our credibility and our moral stature are damaged. That has happened to some extent now–but not to the extent that I see this having the potential for…

 

I think that even considering the prospect of “generational warfare” is a huge mistake. Call me a cockeyed optimist if you want–but I think the world deserves better of America.

Moving Forward

Yesterday Charlie and I preached at one of our congregations in the inner city. It’s one we had attended for several years before transferring to our current one. Charlie shared a drama of Moses, and I spoke to it.

The congregation is not a large one…and the people are not particularly pretty. They are people who struggle with criminal pasts, addictions of various types, violence…just what you can imagine in that kind of setting. But they are people who know that without God they cannot survive.

We met a young woman there–a very attractive young woman–who is 19 and who already has a number of years on the street (with all that implies). Part of the praise report yesterday was that she had just passed her 30th day clean…and that she has gotten her first “real” job. She is desperately wanting to make changes in her life–and knows she cannot do it on her own.

We missed a young woman whom we had known as a child. She would be in her teens now, and we asked about her. She has struggled with the pressure from the streets–and at this point is giving in to it. But…there was a senior high retreat last weekend, and she was offered the opportunity to go…and she took it. So there is hope there yet–and hope that she will be able to respond before she gets so involved in the life around here that she is bound by chains that are so difficult to break.

Our theme yesterday was “Praise God’s generosity.” Looking around that little congregation, one might wonder–where is God’s generosity? Not in necessarily having everything that folks want–or sometimes that they need…but in God’s constant presence, no matter what circumstances these folks find themselves in.

They are working to change their neighborhood…to end the cycle of violence…by taking baby steps–but they are steps forward. They might find themselves trapped between a rock and a hard place–as the Israelites did between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army. But just as Moses called them to move forward–to begin their journey of faith–so these folks are moving forward in faith. They are learning to trust a God they cannot see but who has promised to always–always–be with them.

Mortality

I’ve been thinking about this the last couple of days…

What does it mean to come face to face with your own mortality? I haven’t been having problems lately, but my son-in-law is facing heart surgery next week–a double by-pass. Granted, he’s about a year and a half older than my husband (and that’s a whole ‘nother story!), but it still makes you stop and think.

At one point, it seemed like life stretched on forever before me. There was plenty of time to do everything I thought I wanted to. Now? Well, there are fewer years ahead–a lot fewer…and still a lot of things that I’ve never gotten around to doing.

So…do I try to cram them all into the years I have left? I don’t think I can! So which ones are top priority? Which ones are dreams that I’ve put off, thinking “Well, I’ve got plenty of time to pursue that”?

Am I too old to pursue them? I don’t think so…after all, Grandma Moses didn’t start painting until she was in her 80s! So age isn’t the issue.

I suppose in some ways fear is. Fear that I don’t have time to practice…fear that I’ve waited too long…that I’m not good enough…

But there’s also the flip side. I’m old enough that in a lot of ways I don’t really care what others think… And sometimes age has the added plus of folks saying, “Wow! If she can do that at her age, so can I!”

I’m still working–at a job I mostly enjoy.  So I guess the question really is “What do I want to take the time to focus on in my spare time?”

Issues that bring you face-to-face with your own mortality have a way of helping to bring things into focus!

Prayer…and Works

Yesterday was the 7th anniversary of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. I found myself wondering a bit in the midst of the reminders and the quiet times…have things really changed that much?…and…what am I doing about helping things change positively?

It’s a conundrum at times. I wasn’t able to go to New York to help in the rescue and recovery efforts–or the rebuilding of lives. I’m not able to go to Haiti to help people dig out from the seemingly endless cycle of storms that have hit there. I’m not a certified rescue worker who can help out with disaster efforts.

So what can I do? Well, one thing I can do is to pray. Sometimes that sounds so trite…and yet, I’m reminded of a story I heard of a group of seminary students who visited a convent of perpetual adoration. (I’m not sure those are exactly the proper terms to use–but it was a convent where prayer is offered 24/7.) In the course of the dialogue between the students and the nuns, one of the students asked, “What do you do?” One of the nuns replied, “We pray.” A little puzzled, the student responded, “I know…but what work do you do?” The nun smilingly replied, “Do you not believe that prayer is work?”

If I am a person of faith, what is my response to that question? And so what do I do in times of disaster and need?

I go when I can…I support financially to the best of my ability…and then I uphold in prayer those who are doing the physical work I am unable to.

Prayer and works aren’t totally separate–at least not in my worldview. They’re both a necessary adjunct to each other.

Don’t Patronize Me

Let me say up front that I am an independent voter who has tended to vote Democrat over the last several years, but this presidential election is going to be history-making no matter who wins.

I listened to Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech because I wanted to hear what she had to say–and how she would say it. And my reaction? Don’t patronize me!

I have no problem with understanding that vice presidential candidates tend to be the “attack dogs” of the party in an election campaign. And I also understand that both parties tend to stretch their interpretations of facts and decisions. I check out what both parties say at sites like FactCheck.org.

But I do not appreciate derision directed toward those who have tried to help individuals who have lost jobs through no fault of their own.

I do not like statements that focus on those things that divide us–that break open cultural divisions–rather than looking for those things that we have in common and ways in which we can work together.

I think it is false “advertising” to imply (for example) that she sold the executive jet on eBay (rather than acknowledging that it had to be sold through an airplane broker)…to imply that her decision was the reason the “bridge to nowhere” was cancelled and that Alaska received no monetary gain (when Congress had already pretty well finished cancelling it–and Alaska kept the millions of dollars)…to claim that the other party has done nothing of substance legislatively (when Obama has reached across the aisle to create some significant legislation–including some major ethics reform).

I am one of those “older white women” who tends to be independent in my voting that McCain would need to reach to win. But if he thinks he can get my vote by nominating Sarah Palin as vice-president…nope.

Would I like to have a woman in one of the highest offices in the land? You bet.

But do I think Sarah Palin is the best choice? Nope. And to claim that she has more experience than Obama…or that the whole experience issue now is a non-issue…that feels like the Republicans are saying that I’ll go ahead and vote for them just because they’ve got a woman on the ticket.

Well…sorry, folks. If you had someone on there who was principled, who could give me specifics, whom I felt I could trust…I might consider it. But as it is, I feel like you’re patronizing me–and all that accomplishes is to get my dander up.

McCain-Palin? Nope.

Sarah Palin…

I think McCain’s choice of a running mate makes absolutely no sense in light of the pounding he was giving Obama regarding Obama’s age and the perceived need for experience. To turn around and pick someone four years younger and with what appears to be very limited experience to be literally a heartbeat away from the Presidency–especially in light of McCain’s own health issues–raises serious questions for me about the Republican ticket (although I was not leaning that direction prior to the pick anyway).

If she was picked in an attempt to reach out to women voters–if that is the primary reason, and that I don’t know–I would find that an insult. Yes, I would love to see the time when gender doesn’t make a difference. But I am not someone who would vote for a candidate merely because she happens to be female.

I am much happier with the fact that Obama seems to recognize that one of his strengths is not necessarily foreign policy experience–and selected a VP candidate to complement that area.

And I think there are serious questions and issues around Sarah Palin that need to be responded to.

However, I am hoping that her children will not become an issue. Yes, because of the GOP’s emphasis on family values, I suppose her daughter’s pregnancy will. But how many of us have struggled with decisions our children have made that we know will bring heartache and challenges to them? Our children all need support in dealing with life decisions they have made so that they can be strong enough to deal with the results.

I do not think Sarah Palin is the best choice for VP…but I do wish their family all the best in dealing with their own family issues.