Terrorism is terrorism…regardless

This morning (July 25) I was reading one of the blogs I particularly enjoy–Faith Matters by Bill Tammeus. I don’t always agree with him, but I find his posts always intriguing and challenging. Sometimes what is more challenging than his main post is the short “coda”–and that was true this morning.

Part of what he says is this:

It is now the task of those of us who are Christian to do what many people demand of Muslims after acts of terrorism done in the name of Islam — denounce acts of terrorism performed in the name of religion.

Of course this is in reference to the terrorism attacks in Norway this last weekend–attacks that according to a manifesto written by the perpetrator, Anders Behring Breivik, were done in order to start a Christian war against Islam in Europe.

I would hope that we have moved beyond the mindset of the medieval Crusades, a time that we can look back at in horror. But sometimes I wonder…

I do not agree with all of Islam’s teachings…but I have no reason to start a “holy war” against Muslims, nor do I want any other Christian to speak for me in calling for such a war.

If I truly believe that the God I worship is the God of all people, then God is also the God of those who are Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, other Christian, atheist…or any other religion. And I believe that God weeps when we fail to see each other as brothers and sisters…and find ways of focusing only on those things that divide us.

Whatever drove Breivik to the actions he took…whatever his goal…to say that he speaks for all Christians is as inappropriate as saying that suicide bombers speak for all Muslims. I know that Breivik does not speak for this Christian.

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To sleep…perchance to dream? Nah!

Interest in dreams–and their interpretation–seems to go in cycles, and there appears to be a lot of interest right now.

But what if you don’t dream?

Psychologists (or is it psychiatrists?) say that everyone dreams…that everyone needs to dream in order to deal with daily “stuff.”

But what if you don’t dream?

I rarely dream–at least to my knowledge. Occasionally–very occasionally–I wake up remembering snippets of a dream, but most of the time I am not aware of having had any dreams whatsoever.

Only once did I have a dream that was powerful/scary enough that I remember it to this day. I think I must have been about 10 or so. I had the only upstairs bedroom in our house–and it had windows on all three sides. In my dream, the house was on fire, and the fire blocked my stairway. The only way out was to go out one of my windows onto the roof–and then slide down the drainpipe. But before I could do that, I had to save my doll collection (dolls from the different countries my father had visited). So I was throwing them out onto the grass. I woke up, aware that the fire was coming closer, but I still had dolls to save.

I haven’t a clue what that dream meant then (or now)…but it’s the only one I have ever remembered.

I’ve even put a notepad and pencil in my nightstand so I could jot down whatever snippets I remembered when I woke up. But…nothing.

My nights are restful. I don’t wake up tired–at least, most of the time. And I think I’m reasonably well-adjusted.

So…I sleep. But dreaming? Doesn’t seem to be part of my life!

Hot as…

We’re suffering through an awful heat wave at the moment. Temperatures are running in the upper 90s…and the heat index is between 100-110…dangerous levels.

One of the things that makes it worse is the humidity. We’ve had occasional rain showers–but all that does is to make it feel even more like a sauna!

So what to do?

The news keeps telling people “Drink lots of water…stay indoors…”

All good advice. But what if you don’t have easy acess to water? or if staying indoors means staying in a place that’s as hot as (if not hotter than) the outdoors? or if you don’t have an indoors to go to?

There are cooling stations set up around the area, and that’s good. But I wonder about those who have no way to get to them–for whom they are too far away.

On Sunday morning we frequently have a number of homeless people come to our congregation. Some come for the food  (donuts/bagels/rolls donated by a local grocery store and provided for breakfast) and the periodic potlucks. For them it may be one of the few decent meals they get during the week–and we are glad when we have leftovers they can take with them.

Some come because something in the services is reaching them. Sometimes you wonder…but then something happens and you realize that God’s spirit is reaching out to them–and we are helping to provide a venue where that can happen.

So how do we help–without making folks feel like we are offering “charity”…somehow feeling that we are “better” than they are? They are people with pride as well. I don’t know that we have a perfect answer–but part of the answer we have discovered is to simply accept them. That doesn’t mean we agree with everything they do…in fact, sometimes the pastors have had to take them aside during the service. But because we see them as human beings–as people of worth–they act that way. They help with setup and cleanup…they take part in the services…

So…while it may be hot as **** outside (and sometimes inside, if the air conditioning doesn’t work as well as we would always like), our interactions with each other can be like a drink of fresh, cool water…

Gadfly…or witness?

What’s the difference?

When there is an issue you feel strongly about, how can you share your perspective / understandings in a way that can be heard?

Quite frankly, I’m not always sure.

A few years ago, there was a situation at work (which is my denominational headquarters) that I felt very strongly about, and I wasn’t shy about sharing. Looking back, I didn’t share very well at times…the situation personally impacted me, and I sometimes allowed my emotions to get in the way. And because of that, I have unfortunately gotten a reputation somewhat as a gadfly–someone who can be brushed off because, after all, “It’s just pkkid again…”

And now there’s another situation. Not just work-related, but also–and again–involving my faith community. Only this time, it doesn’t affect just me. It affects many, many good people all along the spectrum of thought and beliefs. Some I agree with…some I don’t. But it’s an issue that is tearing us apart.

I have strong beliefs about it…but how do I share them in ways that will be a witness of God’s inclusivity? rather than being seen as “It’s just pkkid again…”?

Are “gadfly” and “witness” necessarily exclusive? Or can they work in tandem?

I don’t have any good answers…just trying to figure it out.

The deed is done!

After all the planning and getting ready, Mark and Niki are now Mr. and Mrs.!

The wedding was a great day of celebration and sharing with family and friends. More than simply the uniting of two individuals, it was the uniting of two families–and the creation of a new one.

Mark’s son was very involved in the wedding in a number of significant ways. He and the daughter of a good friend of theirs were the junior attendants / candle lighters… When Mark and Niki made their vows to each other, Niki also made a vow to David–to accept and love him as her own for as long as they both lived…and then gave him a medallion as a token of that vow. And when it was time for lighting the unity candle, all three of them had candles to use to light it. (And then David escorted Niki back to the altar.)

Lots of friends present–from a variety of backgrounds…family, church, work, Renaissance Festival…

It was what a wedding should be.

And then…they received a totally unexpected–but delightful–wedding gift. Niki’s cousin made arrangements for them to take a carriage ride on the Plaza (becoming quite a tradition) and then they went to one of their favorite restaurants to eat…still in their wedding clothes. Of course there were lots of congratulations and best wishes. There was an older couple at the table behind them, and they stopped to with them many happy years as they left. When Mark went to pay the bill, the waitress told him that the older couple had taken care of everything–including the tip! It was a significant gift…and they are now looking forward to having the opportunity of paying it forward in a few years.

So…a new family…a new start…and happy (but tired!) parents.