LOSING RELIGION AND FINDING GOD …

They found me under a church pew.

That’s how the story goes, anyway.

I was two-years-old and church had run long. There was lots of singing and shouting and praising and “Holy Ghost fire” and all the things that make up a “good service” in the Pentecostal world. And in all of that, somehow my parents lost me. I had crawled under a church pew and fallen asleep. That pretty much sums up how I was raised.

Church was our life and our livelihood. Not only did we have church in every kind of church ever built, but we had church in about every kind of structure you can have church in: an abandoned store front in St. Louis, a Masonic lodge in Kansas City, a YMCA in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, a Municipal Center in Detroit, a tent in Tennessee.

I’ve heard the Gospel preached and the word parsed and the choirs sing from rural Mississippi to inner-city Chicago, from the swamps of Louisiana to the tropical hills of Bermuda. My young life, carrying the gospel with my family, was a grand adventure and one I wouldn’t trade anything for. But if I’m being honest, I never found God in any of those churches or any of those church services. I found instructions on how to get there. I found life lessons. I found connection to others. I found nuggets of truth. But I never found God. Not the one I was looking for, anyway. And eventually, I developed contempt for church and church buildings. Maybe I saw it as false advertising.

I did, however, eventually find God…but not until I was far away from the safety of a church or a “theology.” When I’d lost all my footing and could no longer make sense of the world, when I was drowning in questions and trouble and chaos, broken and confused and suffering, when all the teaching, orthodoxy, dogma, ritual, habit and (dare I say) religion was gone, I found God in the most unlikely of places. And when you actually find God…really experience the God you’ve been searching for; all encompassing love and consciousness that fills you with a truth you cannot explain yet cannot deny, you will never be the same.

For me, I had to leave the ranks of “the faithful”…to finally find faith.

Apparently, Marty Samson, a guy associated with Hillsong (the Worship Music factory responsible for bringing you most of your hand-lifting choruses on Sundays) is having a crisis of faith and renouncing Christianity…or something like that. I don’t know Marty and I am unfamiliar with most Worship Music in general. It’s not really my cup of tea. Some believe God listens to his children singing worship songs on Sundays, and basks in the glory of it. Personally, I think God does what many of us do – tolerates the worship team then listens to Beethoven or Ray Charles on his own time. Maybe it’s just me …

This man’s “crisis” is dividing the Christian world into groups: those who understand where he’s coming from – and those who see it as just another sign of the decay rotting the “core beliefs” of the truthiest truth. So, everybody is writing a post, making a point and taking a stand. Nothing is more classically religious than defending orthodoxy.

So now, Marty has basically been traded from one team to another team. He’s gone from the “know that I know” team to the “seeker” team. “Know that I know”ers don’t care much for “seekers.” Because in their view, by the time you name the name of Christ, you should have already gotten all that seeking out of your system. And “seekers” tend to look down their noses at “know that I know”ers. Because how can you actually know the truth if you can’t read the Gnostic texts in the original Greek???

And in the middle of all of our “knowing” and “seeking” and squawking and posturing and renouncing and affirming and declaring, the simple love of Jesus gets forgotten, somehow. The beauty of experiencing God gets reduced to frogs protecting puddles. And we fear the truth will be lost, not remembering that if it can be lost, then it isn’t the truth.

Modern Christianity is becoming a tattered bone, for all dogs to chew. Some say you cannot follow Christ unless you don the red MAGA hat, vote a certain way and get yourself in line. Others chastise the faithful if they support Donald Trump. For how can true Christians betray the faith this way?!?!?

In every facet of life, we overlay what a “true Christian” ought to think or believe or follow. No other religion has so much weight on its shoulders when it comes to culture. “Church” is a loaded word. And maybe that is why I couldn’t find God there. Because it was so busy tending to other things. It’s also why I have wanted no further part of the “Christian” label. It comes with too many surface restrictions and man-made mandates. And maybe that’s where Marty is. I don’t know him and I don’t know his heart. But I do know how you can lose sight of God, when you’re more surrounded by his images than his spirit.

A long time friend reached out to me last week, asking if she was losing her faith because she seemed to experience God more in her local bar than in her local church. My response was that maybe she was actually finally finding her faith. I’ve experienced God in bars. I had one of the greatest “God moments” of my life in a dive, in New York City. I experienced God at Paul Simon concert, listening to The Sound Of Silence. I’ve experienced God driving through the Rockies, thinking I was having a heart attack. I’ve experienced God, watching my son gaze out over the Grand canyon for the first time. I’ve experienced God in smoke-filled rooms, in Vegas and in a dirty hospital, in rural China. I’ve experienced God at an American Idol finale and at my grandmother’s death bed.

And none of it had anything to do with politics or policy or people behaving one way or another or even declaring one thing or another thing. It was deeper and wider and higher than any of that. It was blessed assurance. It was amazing grace. It was boundless love.

Once you truly experience God, nothing will shake your faith or stoke your need to defend it. And you will see people renouncing their faith as children of God on a journey, just like you. And you know that eventually their travels will lead them back to the source of all things; the headwaters of hope and peace and love. And you simply pray for them to find their way back without too much pain.

I can finally play in churches again. I’ve come to see church as a campus of sorts, where learning takes place. And while the students learn about God there, they may or may not actually find God there. And it’s okay if they don’t. Because they will eventually find him somewhere. And they may even renounce their faith and run away and flail around and yell and kick and scream and rebel. But they won’t get away from God. Because he is everywhere, in everything.

And once you actually experience him, you will find yourself so full of peace that you could fall asleep under a church pew.

R

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HELTER SKELTER …

It’s one of the most interesting scenes from the documentary, Imagine.

John Lennon is being hounded by some guy at his gate who won’t leave and has been there for days, waiting to catch a glimpse of the icon. Finally, John actually goes to the gate to talk to the guy. The exchange that follows is telling and awkward and sad.

The guy has based his whole life on some code he believes he has deciphered in Beatles songs. So he asks John about the real meaning of Strawberry Fields, and is crestfallen to find out it’s only about a place from John’s childhood…nothing more. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds is only based on a drawn Julian had done for John. It’s not really about LSD or dropping acid. As John deconstructs song after song, you can visibly see the guy at the gate spinning out. All his tightly knit clues are coming unravelled. His most dearly held beliefs are being shattered by the very guy who created them in the first place. This guy’s whole life crumbles right before your eyes.

The Beatles were definitely saying something. And millions of people interpreted it different ways.

Years before this troubled young man had waited at John’s gate, another young man had invoked a Beatles song as the moniker for a very strange series of murders, in Los Angeles. His name was Charles Manson. And his convoluted idea to start a race war had the call sign, Helter Skelter.

Every thinking person knows that the Fab Four had (and have) nothing to do with murder or race wars or the Manson family. But Charles Manson believed they did. He saw it. And people died as a result.

Can Paul McCartney be charged with something Charles Manson assumed? No. That’s ridiculous. But what if it were a little more subtle? Could Paul be reasonably seen as an inciting catalyst? I don’t think so. But it does beg the question: if something you say or do inspires some sort of violence, how much responsibility to do you bear?

We’ve had yet more mass shootings in our country, this week. And the thing that has become almost as maddening and stressful as the shootings themselves, is the impending blame that will be slung in every direction.

Of course guns will be on trial, as they always are (and maybe as they should be). But more than that, we will all be waiting with baited breath to see if the gunmen were pro-Trump or anti-Trump. That will tell us how to plan the protests and which castles to storm.

Thoughts and prayers will be sent. And some will refuse to send thoughts and prayers because they’ve had enough and they want action, damnit! The Second Amendment will get dragged out …again …and parsed until it’s ragged …again. The online profiles of each shooter will be gone over with a fine tooth comb, and clues will be magnified by every media outlet in the world. And we’re all just hoping and praying the shooters didn’t support OUR candidate or subscribe to OUR ideas. Because then we will guilty by association.

No mercy will be granted and no quarter given. If a mass shooter happens to share a belief with one of us, we will, according to the other side,  forever have blood on our hands.

So, staring today in the news cycle, distance and spin will begin on all sides. Nobody wants to think that they somehow caused someone to shoot innocent people. It can’t be US …it HAS to be THEM who caused it.

In the meantime, young, white males keep grabbing rifles and opening them up on unsuspecting strangers…again and again. And why? Is it JUST because they have access to weapons? I have access to weapons, but nothing like this has ever crossed my mind. Almost everyone I know has access to weapons and I know beyond all doubt that none of the people I know would ever entertain the idea of killing innocent people.

Having been around firearms all of my life, I also know it’s a LOOOOONG way from firing a weapon, to turning it on a human being. It’s also a long way from being enraged by something and taking innocent life as your solution. Most people don’t kill people. But some do. And why?

If I were in charge of some entity that studies these things, I would begin the most exhaustive and comprehensive study of mass shooters the world has ever seen. I would study their parental relationships, their video game profiles, their dating profiles, their religious and political profiles.I would have a data base on how and when they were introduced to guns; when they shot their first gun; how “into” it they were, etc.

And I would do a maddeningly tedious profile of the medications they had all been on at one time or another. I have a hunch about the medications. And I would not be surprised to find out that our latest two shooters were on psycotropic drugs at one point in their lives.

Sometimes, there is no rhyme or reason to why someone kills people. And that is terrifying. I worked with a veteran once, who told me that he sometimes just wants to go out and start shooting people because he got so good at it during the war. It made my blood run a little cold. And knowing there are people like that out there, keeps my head on a constant swivel.

But we have young men cracking up around us, and I wonder why. We had them under the last president and the one before him and the one before him. And we don’t know what’s driving them until it’s too late.

We’re gong to want to blame some people for this past weekend. And our social media feeds are going to be hostile.

I, for one, want more information before I start joining in the noise.

See, the Beatles DID write Helter Skelter. But they also wrote All You Need Is Love. And maybe your becoming a murderer or a healer comes down to which song you choose to listen to.

R

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MY AMERICAN LUNCHBOX …

It was the “bicentennial.”

I had no idea what that meant. But apparently, it was important – REALLY important.

I was nine-years-old and just starting to emerge from that dream-like state of childhood, where things are mysterious and magical and float in the languid world between reality and fantasy.

The summer of this famous bicentennial, my father had taken our family to Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown and Yorktown. My brother and I had charged Redoubt Ten, the famous British stronghold captured by the colonists, that essentially won the American Revolution.

My mother made my brother and me these little Colonial outfits to match the three-pointed hats we’d purchased in Williamsburg, complete with ruffled shirts and knee-high knickers.

The movie Rocky had come out that year, as well, and the villain of that movie, Appollo Creed, was in full bicentennial regalia. Everybody was. American flags were everywhere. Red white and blue was everywhere. To my fresh, nine-year-old mind, this was apparently a really positive thing. This was our country’s birthday. 200 hundred years! (which, to me, might as well have been a million) I loved it. And I got squarely on board with it.

When the fall came, I ran right out and got a patriotic lunch box for school, with a cartoon depiction of the three soldiers of the Revolution, marching and playing the drum and fife.

I even went door-to-door, selling replicas of the Declaration of Independence. I guess you’d say I started my life buying in to my country.

As I aged, I travelled the country and visited more historic sites and met more of the nation’s people and read more about where it was I actually lived and discovered more about how we’d all actually gotten here. And as I learned, some of the information I gathered bothered me a great deal.

I learned about western expansion and “Manifest Destiny” and the Trail of Tears and interment camps and segregation and, yes, slavery. I lived in South Dakota for a time, among the Sioux, and saw first-hand what kind of devastation can happen to an entire people group when they are separated out and disenfranchised and stripped of their identity and caught between the notions of clinging to heritage and free assimilation.

As a wrestler in high school, we used to go to the Sioux high school and wrestle their team. And we were always instructed that we were no longer on American soil when we drove past their guard station. We were subject to their laws and customs. And if we were killed on that soil, their justice would be based on tribal laws, not the laws of the United States. So, it was nerve wracking to say the least. And at first, it became hard to befriend those boys. They never smiled at us. They rarely talked to us. To them, we represented everything that was wrong in the world. And for us, they represented extreme danger.

But by the end of the second year, we eventually did talk and get to know each other a bit. And we found out that neither of us were all that dangerous or sinister. We were just boys. If memory serves, a couple of them ended up in the movie, Dances With Wolves. Anyway …

I was teaching a Sunday School lesson one Sunday morning (yes, 16-year-old me was a Sunday School teacher) to a class full of Sioux kids. And they were seriously unruly. I couldn’t settle them down long enough to teach the lesson. And I involuntarily blurted out something I’d heard my grand parents say for years, “you kids are acting like a bunch of wild Indians!”

At that moment, everything stopped. They looked at me as if I’d crushed their souls. And that phrase came crashing down on me and I realized how weird that had to sound to them. And now it even sounded weird to me. I knew “Indians.” I’d wrestled them. And they weren’t “wild.” And that’s the moment I realized that my point of view wasn’t the only point of view in the world.

When taking the tour of Colonial Williamsburg, they show you the “slave quarters.” My nine-year-old eyes almost filled with tears when I saw them. And I can distinctly remember my mother whispering under her breath, “Dear God, those poor people.” And we breathed a sigh of relief that slavery was no longer a part of life in America.

And yet, it wasn’t weird to me that Appollo Creed (a black man) would be celebrating America on screen, even though his ancestors would’ve lived in those quarters (yes, I know Appollo Creed is a fictional character. But that image wasn’t foreign to me).

And later, when I met and befriended British people, I didn’t hate them for being from England. Because I knew that a lot of time had passed since their ancestors had made war on mine. And in that time, we’d all become allies and good friends. And yet, I could still celebrate my country’s independence from their country. And oddly enough, they could even celebrate it too.

And what’s even stranger is they could also be proud of their British heritage, even though it was imperfect. They could acknowledge that they were on the wrong side of some things in their history, and yet were able to rectify those things and move forward with good will toward the people of the earth. And the British flag doesn’t offend me in any way. And God Save The Queen is something I would stand and be reverent for, were I in their country (even though I have a real problem with Monarchies …but that’s another blog).

Our country is coming apart in some ways because we cannot put all of its history neatly in our own American lunchbox. We cannot hold two thoughts in our collective heads at the same time; yes, the constitution was written by slave owners/yes, it’s also the greatest political document in human history.

We protest our own symbols and standards and refuse to take part in traditions that are designed to bring us together. And that tears us apart. We are discounting all the good our country has done in the world, over some of the bad it has done. And none of it fits neatly enough into our lunchbox.

At the same time, we show no mercy toward each other and allow for no one to process their own American lunchbox in their own way.

If you are in a marriage long enough, you begin to discover things about your partner that you don’t want to know. You find out that they are human and frail and can only bear so much. And eventually you will find reasons to hate them or leave them or forget what it was you even liked about them in the first place. And then, you have a choice: do I remove myself from this altogether, or do I press on and offer the same grace I hope they offer me? Because guess what? They’ve discovered the same things about you, you’ve discovered about them.

In many ways, America is like that marriage. It’s fragile and volatile and filled with humans who are processing it in different ways.

Everyday we have the choice to blow it all up and tear it all down or we have the choice to bind it back together and reclaim our symbols and traditions as good things that can move us forward.

For me, my American Lunchbox has taken on many different meanings through the years. Now, when I see those little guys marching, I choose to believe they’re still marching toward something noble and hopeful. I want to believe they’re marching on behalf of everybody who embraces the ideas and ideals of freedom and self-determination. I like to think the flag and the Forth of July still represents “liberty and justice and for all.” And I still celebrate it with a full heart and a salute and maybe even a tear or two.

As beaten up and rusty and outdated as it may be, my American Lunchbox is still a beautiful thing…if you see it in the right light.

 

R

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TO REPAIR …

Some people have their fingers crossed, as they wait.

Those 23 and Me tests and Ancestry inquiries are all the rage. And you can almost sense that some people are hoping and praying their test results show some racial quotient that puts them in a traditionally oppressed class. That, too, has become all the rage.

That’s the problem with racial stuff. It’s all based on a somebody’s set of perceptions. Anyway …

I once heard about a college professor who did a week-long experiment in one of his classes, where he treated all the people with brown eyes differently than the people with blue or green eyes. He gave them lower grades than everyone else. He talked to them with contempt. He didn’t smile at them. He forced them to sit and study together in class. He gave no one with brown eyes credit for anything and he blamed them for everything.

By the end of the week, some of the brown-eyed students were fighting depression. They were all defensive and angry. They had bonded together and organized themselves in opposition to the teacher as well as the other students.

Here’s the problem: even after the experiment ended, they still couldn’t trust that this professor was dealing with them honestly. Did he secretly hate people with brown eyes? Did he do that experiment because he wanted to prove brown-eyed people were actually inferior? What was his base motivation? Why “brown” eyes? And if they got a failing grade (and had brown eyes) after the experiment ended, could they trust that his true prejudices weren’t the reason for the grade? The conspiracy theories developed and some of the brown-eyed people in that class didn’t trust the professor all the way to the end of the year.

The truth is no sane person has a prejudice against brown-eyed people. It’s just weird to even think that. The professor picked brown randomly. It was just an experiment. But if you’ve been a victim of that experiment, where you actually KNEW you were the target based on your eye color, you would feel what you feel, regardless of the facts. And what you feel would affect your existence.

In our country, we did that experiment on a grander and more horrific scale with slavery. So did almost every other country on earth. Slavery has been practiced on every continent of the globe. And, in fact, there are more people in slavery RIGHT NOW than there ever have been in history. But, you see, not all other countries have the guaranteed freedoms IN WRITING that we do. No other countries have been founded on the ideals of liberty and freedom. No other founding fathers made the bold, world-shaking assertions our founding fathers made: All men are created equal, etc, etc.

And so, American slavery has always been impossible to square with its founding. Even now, 156 years after it’s abolishment, we still talk about it as if it was still in effect.

Slavery is evil and horrible. Let’s get that out of the way.

But there are a few things to keep in mind about slavery in America: There were slaves in America beginning in the late 1600s. But they weren’t technically slaves in The United States. All the American colonies were essentially BRITISH colonies until 1776 (hence, the Declaration of Independence). The United States, as we know it, wasn’t formed and set up as a nation until 1789. And when it was formed and set up, the founders were ONE vote away from abolishing slavery right then and there. South Carolina held out and pushed the inevitable back for 74 more years.

Then, the United States fought the bloodiest war in world history (up until that point) to settle the question once and for all. And we thought we did.

Then, we passed the 13th and 14th amendments, hoping to settle the questions once and for all. And we thought we did. As an aside, we sometimes forget that black MEN got the right to vote in The United States 55 years before white WOMEN did…we’re a work in progress, friends.

Then, there were Civil Rights leaders and there was Civil Rights legislation. And, at every stage, we keep thinking we’ve settled the question once and for all. But have we?

Now, people are, once again, talking about reparations to the descendants of slaves. This is actually nothing new. People have been talking about this since the abolition of slavery itself; hence, the infamous 40-acres-and-a-mule field order. But none of the talk has really ever come to much of anything. That’s when you, as a “brown-eyed” person continue to not trust the professor.

Keep in mind that slavery reparations are always talked about when times are very good. Nobody seems to bring any of it up when the economy is tanking. Anyway …

Personally, I’ve always understood the argument for reparations. If you can prove you are a direct descendant of a slave, then maybe you should receive something from not only the U.S Government, but also from all the countries who bought cotton and corn from the plantations during those years. Were those countries not complicit in the business of slavery? How about the businesses who sold seeds or farming equipment to the plantations? Were they not part of the problem? And of course the lending institutions that loaned money for the purchase of slaves, should be a part of the discussion as well. Ship builders and shipping companies who built slave ships should be addressed for sure.

If we’re going to petition for something like this, we have to make sure everyone with dirty hands gets clean. Not just the U.S government. It was only officially involved for 74 years. And can we even do that, now?

Is it even possible to “repair” (which is what reparations means) the damages of slavery with reparation payments? Practically everyone on earth was involved, in one way or another, in the system. The bloodlines are so blurred by now, determining who would get what would probably be a logistical nightmare that would require an entirely different branch of government to oversee it. And would this widen the wound between the races instead of healing it?

I guess I just see, generations from now, the “Department of Reparations” being under investigation by some Attorney General (possibly a half black/half Pakistani woman), for abuses by the director (possibly an Asian Transgender), using the slush fund for trips to Aruba and expensive dinners out. And no one will even remember why the program exists in the first place. It will simply be another agency people can petition to get government checks that aren’t enough to cover what they actually need; an at-one-time-noble-attempt to assuage our guilt about that time we separated people who had brown eyes.

There are other people groups with legitimate claims of reparations, based on injustices done to their ancestors. Do railroad companies owe Chinese descendants back pay for their ancestors building the transcontinental railroad for pennies on the dollar of what white workers were earning? Do they owe me some cash for my Irish ancestors working off their indentured servitude status down in the “cut”? It’s certainly complicated.

But maybe the best, most healing thing we can do is move forward, understanding that skin color (like eye color) is the most random way on earth to exclude or include ourselves. Maybe, if we acknowledge our past mistakes but understand that we, now, are a mix of all of it, rather than simply “victim” and “perpetrator”, we can move forward better and more equal.

And maybe we can finally accept the fact that blue-eyed and brown-eyed people are the same…until they get separated. Maybe that experiment showed that the blue-eyed and brown-eyed people, alike, were simply being controlled by ONE guy (and idea) to whom THEY all gave their power.

Maybe they should’ve all simply said in unison, “That’s enough. We’re not participating in this nonsense anymore.”

 

R

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TO REPAIR …

Some people have their fingers crossed, as they wait.

Those 23 and Me tests and Ancestry inquiries are all the rage. And you can almost sense that some people are hoping and praying their test results show some racial quotient that puts them in a traditionally oppressed class. That, too, has become all the rage.

That’s the problem with racial stuff. It’s all based on a somebody’s set of perceptions. Anyway …

I once heard about a college professor who did a week-long experiment in one of his classes, where he treated all the people with brown eyes differently than the people with blue or green eyes. He gave them lower grades than everyone else. He talked to them with contempt. He didn’t smile at them. He forced them to sit and study together in class. He gave no one with brown eyes credit for anything and he blamed them for everything.

By the end of the week, some of the brown-eyed students were fighting depression. They were all defensive and angry. They had bonded together and organized themselves in opposition to the teacher as well as the other students.

Here’s the problem: even after the experiment ended, they still couldn’t trust that this professor was dealing with them honestly. Did he secretly hate people with brown eyes? Did he do that experiment because he wanted to prove brown-eyed people were actually inferior? What was his base motivation? Why “brown” eyes? And if they got a failing grade (and had brown eyes) after the experiment ended, could they trust that his true prejudices weren’t the reason for the grade? The conspiracy theories developed and some of the brown-eyed people in that class didn’t trust the professor all the way to the end of the year.

The truth is no sane person has a prejudice against brown-eyed people. It’s just weird to even think that. The professor picked brown randomly. It was just an experiment. But if you’ve been a victim of that experiment, where you actually KNEW you were the target based on your eye color, you would feel what you feel, regardless of the facts. And what you feel would affect your existence.

In our country, we did that experiment on a grander and more horrific scale with slavery. So did almost every other country on earth. Slavery has been practiced on every continent of the globe. And, in fact, there are more people in slavery RIGHT NOW than there ever have been in history. But, you see, not all other countries have the guaranteed freedoms IN WRITING that we do. No other countries have been founded on the ideals of liberty and freedom. No other founding fathers made the bold, world-shaking assertions our founding fathers made: All men are created equal, etc, etc.

And so, American slavery has always been impossible to square with its founding. Even now, 156 years after it’s abolishment, we still talk about it as if it was still in effect.

Slavery is evil and horrible. Let’s get tat out of the way.

But there are a few things to keep in mind about slavery in America: There were slaves in America beginning in the late 1600s. But they weren’t technically slaves in The United States. All the American colonies were essentially BRITISH colonies until 1776 (hence, the Declaration of Independence). The United States, as we know it, wasn’t formed and set up as a nation until 1789. And when it was formed and set up, the founders were ONE vote away from abolishing slavery right then and there. South Carolina held out and pushed the inevitable back for 74 more years.

Then, the United States fought the bloodiest war in world history (up until that point) to settle the question once and for all. And we thought we did.

Then, we passed the 13th and 14th amendments, hoping to settle the questions once and for all. And we thought we did. As an aside, we sometimes forget that black MEN got the right to vote in The United States 55 years before white WOMEN did…but I digress.

Then, there were Civil Rights leaders and there was Civil Rights legislation. And, at every stage, we keep thinking we’ve settled the question once and for all. But have we?

Now, people are, once again, talking about reparations to the descendants of slaves. This is actually nothing new. People have been talking about this since the abolition of slavery itself; hence, the infamous 40-acres-and-a-mule field order. But none of the talk has really ever come to much of anything. That’s when you, as a “brown-eyed” person continue to not trust the professor.

Keep in mind that slavery reparations are always talked about when times are very good. Nobody seems to bring any of it up when the economy is tanking. Anyway …

Personally, I’ve always been in favor of reparations. If you can prove you are a direct descendant of a slave, then maybe you should receive something from not only the U.S Government, but also from all the countries who bought cotton and corn from the plantations during those years. Were those countries not complicit in the business of slavery? How about the businesses who sold seeds or farming equipment to the plantations? Were they not part of the problem? And of course the lending institutions that loaned money for the purchase of slaves, should be a part of the discussion as well. Ship builders and shipping companies who built slave ships should be addressed for sure.

If we’re going to petition for something like this, we have to make sure everyone with dirty hands gets clean. Not just the U.S government. It was only officially involved for 74 years. And can we even do that, now?

Is it even possible to “repair” (which is what reparations means) the damages of slavery with reparation payments? Practically everyone on earth was involved, in one way or another, in the system. The bloodlines are so blurred by now, determining who would get what would probably be a logistical nightmare that would require an entirely different branch of government to oversee it. And would this would widen the wound between the races instead of healing it?

Generations from now, I can see the “Department of Reparations” being under investigation by some Attorney General (possibly a half black/half Pakistani woman), for misuses by the director (possibly an Asian Transgender), because they are using the slush fund for trips to Aruba and expensive dinners out. And no one will even remember why the program exists in the first place. It will simply be another agency people can petition to get government checks that aren’t enough to cover what they actually need; an at-one-time noble attempt to assuage our guilt about that time we separated people who had brown eyes.

Maybe the best, most healing thing we can do is move forward, understanding that skin color (like eye color) is the most random way on earth to exclude or include ourselves. Maybe, if we acknowledge our past mistakes but understand that we, now, are a mix of all of it, rather than simply victims and perpetrators, we can move forward better and more equal.

And maybe we can finally accept the fact that all blue-eyed and brown-eyed people are essentially the same…until they get separated. Maybe that experiment showed that the blue-eyed and brown-eyed people, alike, were ALL being controlled by ONE guy (and idea) who THEY all gave their power to.

Maybe they should’ve all simply said, “That’s enough. We’re not participating in this nonsense anymore.”

 

R

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PREACH …

It has always been an interesting phenomenon to me.

As someone raised by preachers (a lot of preachers), I’ve always found it intriguing that people seem to love to be called out by someone. There’s almost something masochistic about our response to someone dressing us down. It’s weird. My father always got more “amens” when he was chastising the audience than when he wasn’t.

I get a few people a week who want me to “rant” about something in a blog. It’s always something they are grappling with, therefore, they think “I” am grappling with the same thing, for some reason. Most of the time (like, 97% of the time) I’m not grappling with their issue at all. Most of the time, I’m fine with whatever is going on.

Only on certain occasions will I throw my hands up and yell at the universe. THOSE are always the blogs that get the most attention. And it’s dumbfounding to me. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is we need to hate about ourselves, and what it is we respond to when our transgressions are called out.

This past week, I’ve been seeing this Jon Stewart video shared and lauded and praised. And it’s kinda funny to me.

The truth of the actual matter at hand is that no-one is going to NOT vote for this fund Jon is promoting. It has bi-partisan support and it gets funded every year. And it will get funded this year. There might have been some attempted fraud related to it, so people are looking into that. But at the end of the day, literally NO ONE doesn’t want to help 9/11 first responders.

But the committee chamber was empty when Jon showed up. And that’s what actually got him angry; the lack of an audience. So he railed on them and took the moment to slice and dice in a way only he can. It was great theater. And for those not realizing that his hearing was scheduled directly against several other hearings, it looked like a lot of people didn’t care. But they do. On both sides of the spectrum.

Then, he blamed the “fiscal hawks” (that’s always code for “Republicans”) for not doing their duty when it comes to the first responders. Hey, just a quick tip: if you’re in the majority, you can’t blame the minority for stuff. They can’t do anything about anything. This thing can be voted on and sent to the Senate without ONE vote from a “fiscal hawk.”

But it WILL be voted on and it WILL get done. It would’ve gotten done without Jon Stewart ever showing up and berating anyone.

But what fun would that have been?

We love being preached at. We love a good “gotcha” moment. We love watching the lawyer drop the hammer on cross examination. I have no idea why.

Because it has been my experience that that hammer eventually falls on you, if you’re being honest with yourself. We all eventually find ourselves in the crosshairs of a righteous shotgun blast. Because we’re all guilty of something.

Personally, I prefer mercy and grace. I need both of those things so much, so often. I don’t need anyone preaching at me. I’ve heard so much preaching I can’t get it out of my head. So, I bristle at people who come at others with absolute certainty of the moral high ground.

You never know when the high ground will have a mud slide, and you find yourself down there with all of those you were preaching at from a perch.

R

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DECK CHAIRS …

“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times …”

Truer opening words were never written.

As we move through life, maybe the most difficult thing to reconcile is the fact that no two people on earth have the same perspective on anything.

This concept tears us apart on social media and in the realm of the political. Depending on how you see the current world, you are either rejoicing or wringing your hands. If you keep people from all sides of the political spectrum on your Twitter or Facebook feed, you will see one post touting the record-breaking unemployment numbers, followed by a post asserting that Western Civilization will be over in a generation (I saw these VERY posts yesterday).

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this kind of duality in my lifetime. These days, we seem to simply decide what the world is, and manifest it to our making. If you think it’s a dark hell-hole, it can certainly be that for you. If you think it’s a wonderland, where anything can happen, it can be that too. It can actually be both at the same time. And maybe the meaning of life is to reconcile how you’re going to remember it.

My wife and I have two very different views of our patio furniture. And it sparked a rather deep conversation recently.

She is frustrated with the decade-old cushions and weathered upholstery. And she has mentioned, on occasion, that she would like “better” patio furniture in the future.

I, on the other hand, vividly remember buying said furniture. And it was very expensive. I remember this because I almost always remember paying for expensive things. And in my version of the patio furniture story, two friends of mine are standing on my deck, watching me assemble the table and chairs. They are both going through horrible marital struggles. One is getting a divorce and the other is crying over her husband leaving her.

All I want to do is get the chairs put together and enjoy my newly tiled deck. My wife is in the kitchen finishing up or prepping or somewhere in the middle.

When I finally got the chairs functionally rocking and the cushions and pillows (and more pillows) put in the right order (yes, there was an order) and everything placed and angled correctly, everyone just sat down (without thinking) and dipped and sipped and rocked and leaned and cried and talked and used the furniture. But that day, and that furniture, holds a different meaning for me than it does for almost anyone else.

For me, that day was about paying more for patio furniture than I thought you could pay for patio furniture. But it was also about providing a comfortable place for two friends to sit and vent. It marked the beginning of countless nights, rocking and talking and listening to music on the deck. So, while that furniture might mean very little to my wife, it actually means a lot to me. And it’s all because of our different perspectives when it comes to those chairs and that table.

I’ve heard it said that two people in a restaurant, having the same dinner, are each having different experiences …because they’re facing opposite directions.

It’s so true.

Part of the whole “being woke” thing is simply acknowledging that there might be different perspectives and experiences on a given topic. Yes, it’s true …I don’t know what a black woman from South Africa has experienced. I cannot see the world through her eyes. I cannot know what it’s like to feel her limitations or her joys or her sorrows. And she cannot know what it’s like to feel or know mine.

And this is true of every single human on the planet. Even twins can experience the exact same moment and experience it completely differently.

Our hope is to find some common ground; some consensus on which to build relational foundations. And we use art and memories to help with that. Songs, books, movies, concerts…these are all things we hold onto as touch points. They take us to a place where we had the same experience; where we remember it the same way. But even then, we remember it differently. Because we experience it differently.

Sometimes, we experience something one way, but then remember it another way. Once we have the perspective of age and we gain knowledge we didn’t have at the time, we make up our minds that what we thought was a bad experience was actually a wonderful one. And sometimes, what we thought was a great thing, turns out to have been not so great in retrospect.

I’m finding, as I get older, that my own retrospect is colored by what my hopes and fears were at the given time. And now that I’m beyond them, I can embrace the memory in a new way. What was once “the worst of times” might’ve actually been “the best of times.” I just didn’t know it.

All of this leads me to want to be more honest in the “now.” And also never discount the way someone else feels about a situation. My wonderful evening might represent someone else’s horrible evening. It’s rare when we agree on a given moment.

But maybe, if you find yourself sitting on a warm, Summer’s night, on a comfortable deck chair…think of it fondly. Remember it well. It might represent one of the more important days of someone else’s life.

R

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SONGLAND …

If losing teams didn’t get paid, professional football would be much more interesting to watch.

But there would also be many more injuries and fights and probable nervous breakdowns. Every single game would be a brawl to the end. Knowing you only get paid if you win, would create beasts out there, willing to take dangerous chances with themselves and others. It would create an entire population of psychopaths, who know they cannot take a loss if they want their kids to eat. One losing season could put an entire team of people out of business…for good. So, strange alliances would develop and creative new corruption would arise. This player or that one might agree to throw a certain game if he could get a kick-back from the winning coach, hence guaranteeing him a paycheck either way.

The entire game would be more of a Gladiatorial nightmare than it already is. And the people who play it would become mentally warped and damaged. Possibly, beyond repair.

There is a world where that very scenario exists: professional songwriting.

If you are a professional songwriter; feeding your family, paying your mortgage, gassing up your car, you’re either doing it on the future or the past. That means you’re either earning your money off of royalties (the past) or advances (the future). There is only the tiniest of windows for songwriters who haven’t had any success yet, but might getting advance money from a publisher. But those scenarios are almost gone and those days are all but over. No, if you’re affording your life as a “professional songwriter” you’re one of the Gladiators who are winning. There is just no way around it.

I meet screen writers all the time who make money for films that never get shot. They option and punch up and whatever and whatever. And their name may not be on all that many things when you look them up on IMDB but their WGA (Writers Guild of America) fees are set and they can make money here and there. But songwriters get nothing if their songs don’t get recorded and/or become popular. This makes for a chaotic and completely stressed-out work environment.

One of the systemic problems with songwriting is that everybody on earth is absolutely convinced they are a songwriter. They just know they have a great song idea. They are sure they’ve got the next, great hook or the next golden line that will become a cultural catch phrase. And the maddening thing is…they may actually be right.

We all start out making up songs when we’re kids. It’s a natural thing for humans to do. In a sense, songwriting is sacred in that way. Anything kids naturally do, must be something universal to us as a species. Then we grow up and enough people tell us we suck until we hide our talent away inside our work cubicle. We dabble on weekends and go to the occasional workshop. But we stow it away as the potential for a living.

But then there are those of us who don’t hear people telling us we suck. I mean, they’re saying it. We’re just not hearing it. We dive into the pool of professionals and act like we belong there, until one day…we finally do. Maybe we started with talent and a natural ability to make up melodies and lyrics. But through the years we hone something called “the craft.” And the knowledge of “the craft” is the difference between amateurs (with talent) and professionals.

But craft isn’t enough. It just has to be there. The mark of the great song is heart and soul and yearning and speaking a truth we all knew was there but couldn’t put into words before. And sometimes those great songs become “hit songs” or “popular.” And “hits” earn money…or at least they used to. So the coin of the realm for the songwriting Gladiators is the “hit.” It’s how the business sustains itself. But the problem is you can have a “hit” on something not great. You can have a hit on something not even good. This is where chaos ensues. And songwriting becomes a playground for the truly gifted as well as the hack with a good rhyming program. Great work-of-art songs never get heard and languish in hard drives, while mediocre offerings with a big choruses of “na na’s” win the day. And that very thing tilts the nature of the business toward not having any idea what the hell it’s doing most of the time.

I watched the show Songland last night, against the call for a boycott from some of my friends. I found the show compelling …sort of (as compelling as watching songs being written can be). And sure enough, the people who knew the craft (the professionals) were all pretty much on the same page. I found myself yelling out pro critiques as well: “Tighten the verse lyrics – scrap the B section – get to the chorus quicker – your throw-away melody after the chorus is your strongest hook – use it in a more prominent way” – etc, etc. A lot of song craft is understanding the human attention span and understanding some mathematical principles behind melody and meter. But even when you get the craft right, you still might not have that illusive thing called a “hit.”

Some people were outraged that the show had apparently asked the up-and-coming songwriters to waive their royalties in order to appear on the show. I could’t confirm if that story was actually true. Someone closely connected with the show contacted me and said that it was NOT true but that the contracts were a bit complicated to get around licensing and clearance problems. I would imagine licensing something IN PROCESS, that was copyrighted one way walking in, and a totally different way walking out, would be a very sticky scenario for a TV show. Plus, the sync royalties for a prime time TV show performance of only half a song (which is what they were performing – NOT the entire song) might only be around $1500 to $3000 anyway. If the show paid each contestant $5 k to appear, as a talent fee, that would be a better deal for them. (I don’t know if that’s what they did, but it would seem plausible.)

But even if the TV show took ALL the royalties, for every format (even radio) from each song, the trouble with songwriters is there are those out there who would still agree to it. Streaming services have destroyed professional songwriting as an industry and yet there are still legions of music artists lined up to get on those services. Record labels have done cut-rate royalty deals for decades, and songwriters have lined up for the abuse and then offered to shine their shoes if they will give them more abuse. Publishing companies have held royalties and cross-colateralized accounts and gone bankrupt in order to not have to pay writers, and yet there are armies of songwriters banging on the windows to be a part of that system.

Professional songwriters have toyed with the idea of unionizing and going on strike, for decades. But we all know that the minute that happens, there are thousands 24-year-olds, who have been waiting on the old guys (who don’t know what they’re doing anyway) to step aside and let the REAL talent finally get a shot. And if you listen to the radio, you know that nothing will stop. The wheel will still turn and the audience, by and large, won’t know the difference.

I question whether or not Songland can sustain enough interest through a whole season. Watching songs being written is not unlike watching someone do a crossword puzzle or knit. And when you’re watching those at the top of the game do it, it feels like you can do it just as easily as they can. Maybe you can. But if you decide to try it as a life, remember that no other business on earth waits for things to happen. And even if your song is just about to come out on the radio, the mortgage company doesn’t care. The insurance company doesn’t care. The grocery store doesn’t care.

All the people who work in those industries will be home watching Songland, cheering you on, on Tuesday …then calling you on Wednesday, asking why you haven’t paid your bill.

R

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DUMBER …

A lot of people have pretty much had enough. And I get it.

Actor Jeff Daniels said, this week, that one more term of Donald Trump would end Democracy as we know it. Okay, there cowboy. Settle down. Hitler couldn’t do that. The Civil War couldn’t do that. Nixon couldn’t do that. No, Obama couldn’t do that. FDR couldn’t do that (although he and Lincoln got the closest), even the Soviet Union couldn’t do that. I get it. You hate the guy. But ending Democracy as we know it is simply not happening. It’ll be here long after the Donald is replaced.

But then he said something that simply makes my blood boil. He said other than not wanting to pay taxes, the only reason he could see for people voting for Trump was racism. My eyes rolled so far back in my head I could see that phone number I forgot in 1989. Really, dude? Everybody’s a racist?

Shame on you, Jeff Daniels. Shame on you. Voting is very often a pragmatic act. It doesn’t mean you own everything a candidate does or says. It means you prefer their direction over the other direction. And guess what? Just because a lot of Americans can’t seem to square the circle on why every person on planet earth has to have a passport in order to travel; has to enter every other country (on planet Earth) through the correct portals; has to announce their presence in every other country (on planet Earth), except for a two-thousand-mile stretch on the southern border of the United States, where apparently, if you just show up, you should be allowed to simply walk across without any of the aforementioned tethers, that makes you some sort of Nazi…doesn’t make them racists.

I have a LEGAL immigrant who lives with me. She is my daughter. Mountains of paper work and gallons of ink went into her adoption and naturalization. My fingerprints are on file with the FBI. I had to turn my financial records over to TWO different governments. I’m sure this thing I’m writing is being monitored by someone, somewhere. And I guess I can’t understand why it would’ve been okay to simply have the orphanage meet us all in Mexico and walk the babies across the border for free.

Why do we even have an immigration department if it is essentially a racist act to use it?

Questions like these are why people voted for a foul-mouthed philanderer from Queens. And it has nothing to do with racism. It has to do with somebody in government finally asking the same question we’re all asking: “What the hell is going on and why hasn’t it been fixed???”

And yes, people want to pay less in taxes. Even Mr. Daniels will have to fly to the state with the best tax incentives for his next film. And for the life of me, I have never been able to understand why that is an immoral thing. Why is the government receiving more money than the citizenry somehow noble? Why is Bill Gates keeping ALL the money he earns, a matter of our collective, eternal souls? Bill does a pretty good job with his money. He helps a lot of people with his money. He gives a lot of his money away to worthy causes. I’ll bet he does a better job with it than all those congress people would. Why must he (and people like him) be a constant target of outrage?

The fact is lowering taxes has made the economy boom. Businesses can now expand. And although people desperately want to believe that when businesses expand one evil white guy at the top just keeps all the money, it really doesn’t work that way. When businesses expand, jobs get created to help it happen. And those people working those jobs save up their money and sacrifice those new shoes and don’t eat out for a few weeks so they can afford plane tickets to New York City, to watch Jeff Daniels play Atticus Finch on Broadway.

And yet somehow, he doesn’t know or understand that. And he believes that a lot of those people are horrible inside, and want harm done to people of other races. Meanwhile, those other races have a higher employment rate than they’ve ever had in the history of this country. Well, I suppose technically there was 100% employment of black people when they were slaves and didn’t have a choice. But then the Republican party showed up and gave them a choice.

A lot of family became Republicans in the 1960’s because the Republicans were the only people in some parts of the south who would register black voters. This is how and why Martin Luther King Jr. was a registered Republican. Then, a lot more of them became Republicans in the 80’s when they’d had enough economic chaos from the very likable and very Christian Jimmy Carter.

And what has turned a lot of people on to the current Mr. Trump? A lot of it is being tired of getting berated for asking simple questions: why don’t we have a secure border? Is a wall or a fence really “immoral?” Does that really make us all racists?

And while we’re at it, why does a series of tornadoes in Oklahoma (a place that is LITERALLY called “Tornado Alley”) mean the world is ending and in order to fix it we have to transfer all the wealth in the world to other countries? Does anybody else think the “Green New Deal” is a load of crap? Why do we have to take this nonsense seriously to be treated like a human being?

While we’re at it, why do we have to accept some man’s desire to dress and act like a woman as “science?” It’s not science. He’s a dude. Dress however you want. Call yourself whatever you want. Act however you want to act. Nobody really cares, anymore. But we actually have to pretend his gender pronouncement is science in order to not be horrible people? We have to pretend he’s not winning all those races in the women’s division because he’s actually a MAN?

These questions nag at regular people. These issues have all been hurled into the political realm. And people look for someone out there – some leader – to help them make sense of it all. If you don’t understand Donald Trump standing in that gap and offering to be the lightening rod for these people, then you wasted your money on that human behavior course you took in college.

Donald Trump may be a racist. I don’t know the man. And I don’t make judgements on people I don’t know (or DO know, for that matter). If he is a racist, he sucks at it because he sure has helped a lot of minorities do better, financially. But I DO know a lot of people who voted for him. And they are not racists. They are pragmatists who love their country and have questions that have never been sufficiently answered by their government. And they get the joke. Yes, they all know Donald Trump is saying about half of everything he says with his tongue in his cheek. And to some people that’s a breath of fresh air. And they’re tired of being talked down to by media types, with perfect jaw lines and no sense of humor.

And yes, they are incredibly weary of being scolded by actors and rock stars, who aren’t pulling double shifts to buy the kids Christmas presents, or getting bridge loans to keep the gas station open, or maxing out the credit card to go to the Big Apple and watch that Dumb and Dumber guy in his new play.

 

R

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ABORTION WARS …

It’s the blood that bothers me the most.

The fact that the mother’s blood doesn’t mingle with the child’s blood…yeah…that bothers me.

Also, whenever a woman says, “I’m eating for two, now,” I’ve always asked myself, “So, that IS a whole other person in there?”

Anyway …

We’ve all got our opinions on abortion. It’s one of the 3 or 4 primary issues with which our country grapples. And it has been since I was a child.

A lot of it sort of sprang out of the sexual revolution. Women got tired of being told what to do. They wanted the power and control over their own bodies. I totally get that. I want power and control over my own body too. I guess the only thing I would say to women, from someone with “white, male privilege” is that no matter how much power and control you think you have over your own body, it doesn’t exempt you from consequences.

With all my power and control over my own body, I can still get Herpes as easily as you can.

I know of guys who got girls pregnant and then got hit for child support after the fact, even though they didn’t want the child. If a man doesn’t want a child, he’s called a “deadbeat dad.” If a woman doesn’t want a child, she’s merely exercising her rights. But I digress …

The abortion debate is essentially a battle over who gets to live and who doesn’t. It’s no more complicated than that. And a lot of women firmly believe that until the child inside them takes its first breath of fresh, earth air, they are the sole arbiters of the child’s existence. I don’t argue this point. I never have. But if I were going to argue it, there’s a lot of science on that side of the argument.

It was once believed that people of color were inferior forms of the human race, therefore it was perfectly acceptable to use them for slave labor. This notion is so horrible and ghastly it’s hard to even process. Even if there were a lower form of human being (which there isn’t – the science is crystal clear), the idea that it somehow it gives the higher forms license to use them as slaves is still, in and of itself, nauseating. But we as a nation accepted it for centuries, then fought a whole war over it. And even as I type this, there are more slaves on earth today then there were in 1860. And yet the practice of slavery doesn’t ever, EVER make it right.

Now that we know more about the actual science of human fetuses, a lot of people compare the practice and acceptance of abortion to that of slavery; it is one person deciding life and death over another person. I suppose that is technically “murder.” But again, I digress.

I have questions for those who refuse to accept a human fetus as human life: why do we do “prenatal” care if we’re not protecting a life? Why do we discourage women from smoking or drinking or even eating tuna while they’re pregnant, if it’s not to protect a completely different, autonomous entity? That has always nagged at me. I watched a whole segment once, on Good Morning America, about prenatal care and all the things you should do to “protect” your unborn child. Then, literally as they were going to commercial break, the anchor said, “Next, the debate over abortion heats up!”

And I couldn’t help but think to myself, “so, you do all this stuff to keep your unborn baby safe …unless you decide to kill it at the last minute?”

It was hard to reconcile.

Then again, I understand the other argument. Hear me out …

My daughter has one of the rarest genetic disorders on planet earth. She cannot speak or care for herself in any way. There is an 80% molestation rate among people with disabilities. It’s completely insidious because predators know these are the weakest among us. And they act on it. And it sickens me. Still, God forbid my daughter were to get raped and pregnant, we know that she would not be able to carry a child to term. It would kill her or the baby. We know this. It has happened. And even if she were to somehow carry it to term, it would have to be adopted immediately. She would not be able to care for it. Furthermore, there is a 50% chance the baby would be born with Angelman Syndrome, making it much more difficult to adopt out.

These things keep me awake at night. And if I’m being honest, I would like to know there would be options for her, in an unthinkable situation like that. I’ve had this conversation with friends and even family members who have assured me that God would never let something happen that he didn’t have a plan for. Then, they got up and left my house and went back to their life, while I was there, still taking care of a person NO ONE ever comes to take to the mall or to the park or to a birthday party. Yeah …God takes care of it. I get it.

The harsh truth is you’re not really “pro-life” unless you have adopted children. Let me repeat that: you are not really pro-life unless you have adopted children. You may be philosophically opposed to abortion. But that is very different than being an active participant in protecting and providing for existing human life. It’s hard to listen to and face, but as long as there are orphans in the world, there aren’t enough people who actively embrace the idea of caring for all life.

Here are some other thing to think about and ask yourself:

If black women hadn’t aborted 70% of their children over the last 40 years, the black population of the United States would almost be the majority. Are you cool with that?

If abortions are made illegal in all 50 states, there will be millions more children (many of which will be children with special needs) who will need to be adopted. How many children are you prepared to adopt? How many families with multiple children with disabilities are you prepared to support?

If ALL life is precious, regardless of how it is made, how many single mothers who sleep around and get pregnant by multiple fathers, are you prepared to help support? After all, it isn’t the child’s fault how they got here.

Some liberal states are taking abortion to a grisly end; allowing for abortions right up until the due date, and even having the conversation about life being snuffed out even after the child has been born. That turns my stomach. And I’m sorry folks, but once a child is out of the womb, can you at least stop calling it “abortion?” It’s murder. Be honest

The good, white Christians on the other end of the spectrum, in the orthodox south (namely the Alabama legislature), are passing such intractable laws, even Pat Robertson is calling them “extreme.” And they are designed to rattle the Supreme Court and re-litigate Roe V. Wade.

Roe V. Wade is a flawed court decision. A lot of scholars agree on this. Still, in all this posturing and gamesmanship and in the desire to “win,” both sides often forget what the whole thing is about in the first place: a baby. And then it’s about what happens to that baby once it’s here. It’s also about what kind of society that baby will grow up in.

I’ve asked a lot of questions and provided almost no answers. Maybe that’s because the actual answers are not easy ones and they’re not ones we really want to hear. And unless we were prepared to face those answers honestly, this conversation will continue to be pointless.

R

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