Saturday, March 26, 2005

You are who you hang with and laugh at

This comes under the heading of things I have learned. Peggy and I had occasion to host some friends from my past on the occasion of my 60th birthday. It was delightful. We talked about ideas, concepts and life for hours until it became apparent the sun was going to come up if we didn't stop. Julie had a post last fall of just such an enriching dinner and conversation. I don't think it has to be otherwise. We can live like this. At least we can try to avoid NOT living like this.

I must be blunt, not all of my friendships and social contacts are as stimulating. Some are difficult. I enjoy a conversation that has no boundaries. I enjoy a laugh with an intelligent wit. I enjoy people who are courteous allowing others to talk.

I was better for that night. I realized a truth again I had lost. You rise or fall as a person based on your friendships. Relatives. I can't pick them, neither can you. But I am more careful of people I allow into my life who can bring me down, don't encourage, are lacking a positive outlook and in general are a drain on me. If you are reading this it's probably not about you. The people I'm talking about are self focused enough not to read what others think.

My dear ones, if you want to be better for it all, select your friends well. Be careful not to let others lead you to places you wouldn't otherwise go. Find those who encourage you, spur you on, challenge you.

I enjoy laughing at good jokes. I like good humor. I learned a key truth from a guy I admire. I'll give him attribution, Ron Carpenter, Jr. He said something nearly a year ago that has haunted me and is becoming apparent in my life. Whatever you laugh at you will accept.

I have comedy Channel on my Dish. I watch it some. Bluntly, it's hard for me not to laugh at jokes which have to do with things I would never admit. There are blogs which are hilarious but they have to potential to scar my conscience.

When I was a kid in ND we told Norwegian Jokes, Jokes about Jews, Jokes about N......s.
Don't be offended. I am still affected by some of these racial and class slurs. Blue Collar TV is very funny. It also wounds.

I am not humorless. In fact I may think too much is funny for my own good. The distance between humor and ridicule is short.

Most humor is funny because it carries an element of truth. It's couched criticism. I have enjoyed very dark gallows humor in the past. I'm trying to clean up my act.

Make a conscience decision on what you will access to laugh at. What you laugh at you accept. What You accept becomes much of who you are. I won't even talk about the "good old days". That's a disease of the old. I have a few years left. But our culture laughs at things in public today that just 20 years ago would NEVER have passed. Think about it.

Jesus, Whimp or Lord of All?

I am a big fan of Mark Steyn. He is a dead tree (newspaper) columnist who also maintains a blogsite. His redux review of
"The Passion" was a good read. I have highlighted one part. It's so true. Preach an unadulterated pure word and people will come. Preach a Whimpy Jesus People will run. That's why I do not have any comprehesion why the American Lutheran Church, The Episcipol Church in America, Methodists as some other mainline denominations are so intent on self destruction by endorsing aberration. Read what he has to say.

.......Indeed, though Mel is Catholic, his Passion is a hit thanks to evangelical Protestants – those who believe the Bible is the literal truth and not a “useful narrative” culminating in what the Bishop of Durham called a “conjuring trick with bones”. Instead of Jesus the wimp, Mel gives us Jesus the Redeemer. He died for our sins – ie, the “violent end” is the critical bit, not just an unfortunate misunderstanding cruelly cutting short a promising career in gentle teaching. The followers of Wimp Jesus seem to believe He died to license our sins – Jesus loves us for who we are so whatever’s your bag is cool with Him.

Strictly as a commercial proposition, Wimp Jesus is a loser: the churches who go down that path are emptying out and dying. Those who believe in Christ the Redeemer are booming, and Mel Gibson has made a movie for them. If Hollywood was as savvy as it thinks it is, it would have beaten him to it. But it isn’t so it didn’t. And as most studio execs have never seen an evangelical Christian except in films where they turn out to be paedophiles or serial killers, it’s no wonder they’re baffled by "The Passion'’s" success...........

Have a blessed Resserection Day

The Lord is Risen, He's Risen Indeed

Friday, March 25, 2005

Terri Schaivo, 14 Questions

I have been silent on this whole issue since it first became the center of media attention. I won’t try to give you any should, could and if only’s. I will try to ask some questions which need to be asked:

  1. Does the order of caretaker reside in legal terms “Michael or the Schindlers” or does the law of "he who cares most" decide?
  2. Is Terri’s imminent death any more important in the cosmos than say the young kids gunned down in Red Lake Minnesota?
  3. Are the courts who appear to carry all the decision making power in this a substitute for spineless politicians unwillingness to act?
  4. In light of number 3 was Gov George Wallace’s stand at the schoolhouse door (which I didn't support) 45 years ago an act of conscience and conviction that is now absent in elected officials?
  5. Are Florida law enforcement people carrying out court orders any different from Germans who worked in concentration camps who decided to do what was wrong rather than lose their jobs (which they needed too) in the early 1940’s?
  6. Does the climate created by the patriot act and the 9-11 aftermath enable the drone syndrome (I don’t make the laws, I just enforce them) in law enforcement?
  7. When Terri dies will the beginning of the end of respect for life be lost forever in America or even the western world?
  8. Does this event have the potential of steepening a slippery slope we didn't intend to go down as a nation?
  9. If you put on your most cynical glasses what WAS the big vote of congress all about last Sunday other than political grandstanding?
  10. Who among elected officials wouldn’t vote against "bad things" and for "good things" if it wouldn't have any efficacy like the Schaivo vote was designed not to do?
  11. If you apply the Andy of Mayberry Barney Fife test, what would Andy do? What about Barney Fife? Remember the buffoon Mayor? What do we have today in America, Andy or Barney, the Mayor (Andy we hardly knew ye)?
  12. How different from Pontius Pilate are those elected officials who from core gutlessness will not take the action they know they should take if they really had the courage of their convictions?
  13. Doesn’t a tail wagging poodle dog (just like our elected officials) make everyone happy but takes no action that might have potential to anger anyone?
  14. If this continues how far are we from the heirs of an estate who are short of cash going to court and saying, "Mom has lived long enough, we want to end her life, her quality of life isn't much anymore"?

This event is no longer about Terri. It’s about who we are as a nation, who we are as Christians, what our judicial system really is, who our politicians really are, and what do we want to do about it.

I am pretty sick of it all. I’m sick of the grandstanding. I’m sick of the opportunists on all sides of the fence. I’m sick of the blatant pocket lining already started as an offshoot of this tragedy. As a fairly visible Christian I am already being bombarded with requests for $ to fight this sort of thing.

I’m not too sick of it all to vote and lobby for people of conviction. I hope I’m able to identify who they are. It's not the people we have.

So, Gene, Someone makes you king. What you gonna do? Arrest all judges not following the mandate of a subpoena from congress. PUT THEM IN JAIL. National Guard shows up and takes all law enforcement people into custody under the command of Jeb Bush. Terri (Who may not make it anyway) is transported to hospital at once. President issues an executive order. Let the liberal press whine. They hate us anyway. Take a stand for GOD"S sake.

If that happens get ready to say President Bush for 8 more years beyond GW. JEB.

Otherwise I think we are in for a long sad drift.

This is a rare opportunity that is about to be lost. I grieve.

PS: It's Easter Sunday. I have had a chance to reflect on what I wrote. 13 of the 14 questions asked above are questioning the moral compass / ethical center of the people involved. It's a symptom of a lost generation. A lost generation beginning with nearly all of our elected officials. Few truly principled leaders tune into God's wavelength and are instead tuned to WIFM (What's in it for ME). That's why they poll before they speak.

The real benefit of a spiritual awakening it will be the restoration of confidence in God rather than in man. Let it come soon.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Un-Holy Christians and Holy Pagans

I have been a minister with the International Pentecostal Holiness Church for a while. It’s a good organization.

I have never had a problem with the words International, Pentecostal, or Church. I have had a problem with the word Holiness.

I know all of the theological definitions. I know the concept from scripture pretty well. I don’t like the way it’s used in most of evangelical Christendom. Holiness defined as the absence of tobacco, fornication, lust, alcohol, drugs, swearing, and then by outwardly manifesting a whole set of other external behaviors that say, “I’m holy and you’re not, nya nya nya”. Look at those horrible people who do all those things. (….and such were some of you)

I know how to do it. I can be the best flesh driven Pharisee you ever met. I did it for years. I used fleshly suppression driven of my pride in MY disciplined ability to behave in a certain way. Talk about the ultimate works based salvation theology. Then I got sick of the hypocrisy. I rebelled against it; Maybe too much.

I don’t love Jesus any less. In fact I'm more passionate than I have ever been. I just refuse to jump thru hoops I don’t think have anything to do with living for Jesus on this side of the veil.

In the last couple days a magazine put out by the IPHC hit my mailbox. Experience. The cover story was on Holiness. I almost tossed it. Bun’s in the hair, no makeup, long dresses, crew cuts, the full catastrophe. Until I read it. Rhema hit.

It became clear from reading this issue that reality in holiness was more about living a life reflecting the presence of God in treating other people well, being a decent example, honesty, caring and lots of other things which should be part of any Christian’s life. Holiness is taking care of a sick person, putting the grocery cart back where it belongs, doing right even when no one is looking. Doing right because it’s who you are. I don’t think the hair buns, makeup issues, clothing and hair length has anything to do plus or minus in making a person holy. If doing so turns your crank have at it. I prefer my badge of holiness to be a little less ostentatious.

Holy Pagans
I have known some precious holy people who were lost pagans in every way. How about the Dahli Lama? Holy. I can name many people I have known who lived holy lives because they were unique from the world in their behavior towards others and in their exemplary life. They lived lives of goodness without God. I worked with a man by the name of Al who was kind, honest, and gentle. But he had no time for anything relating to God. He died lost in his sin. He was holy in every way but spiritually separated from the saving power of Jesus.

On the other hand, I have known Christians who were correct in every way professing the love of Jesus and at the same time were as mean as a snake, crooked, selfish and greedy. I won’t name names but some you know. Some are even in the national spotlight in ministry.
Saved, heaven bound and completely UN-HOLY Christians.!

So what’s the difference?
A holy Christian reflects the character of Jesus in all he says and does and lives in the grace and confidence of his continuing salvation. It’s who he is because of Jesus, not because of his human ability to abstain from certain behaviors. It’s a process of spirit over flesh.

A holy pagan lives by the golden rule reflecting what is right by society and is well thought about by all around him. Good works abound. But he does it because it’s who he is. Just him. He is unmolested by the enemy because he is good, but lost.

It’s a crime to be the holy pagan. We need him to show us the way to live here and we need to show him how to live there.

It’s a crime to be the un-holy Christian. He is showing the wrong way here and he will know it over there. One little bitty rhinestone in his tiny crown.

Both are tragic.

Being Holy is living our life in a continual process of development until we attain the very likeness of Jesus. (…till Christ be formed in us). Not that we have already arrived, we press toward the goal of the high calling of God.

That’s Holiness I can embrace.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

One of the Best Men I EVER Have Known

I have hesitated to write this because it sounds more eulogistic than it is meant to. I just think it’s important to send flowers BEFORE and not as important after.

Further down in this blog is a dissertation on ages of life. This relates to that.

Earl H Redlin is in late life. We are all going to end up there. And, in this age he is struggling with health issues many of us will face. I pray for him. God’s will is going to be done. It always is and it’s always good. It’s not always in line with our will but it’s always good. In that we can take ultimate comfort.

Earl H Redlin is one of the best men I have ever known or loved. He has been a protector to me and my brother and sister in a time of need. He has provided a strong symbol of strength for decades. He has stood for and with those in difficult circumstances. In my mind’s eye is a strong handsome man upright and confident in his resolve to do the correct thing. He will always be.

Here are just a very few of the things I remember him best for:

  • As Mayor of Ellendale he took mass criticism, even hatred for doing what was right
  • Running for Governor of ND he made accurate and unpopular statements about the state of monopoly agriculture that cost him support. He since was proven correct. I do my best to carry on the tradition of speaking the truth even when it’s unpopular.
  • Earl made much of his living doing right deals at the right time. It’s a reassurance that when lesser men were trying to stretch their social security check he was providing for his family by working to 80 yrs old. If he had been able to he would have gone longer.
  • When he didn’t have to he invited my siblings and me into his family and treated us with respect and support thru what were difficult years for everyone. He provided the parenting we lost when our folks were killed in 1959.
  • He encouraged all of us to reach hard for our potential. He did more. He led the way.
  • I watched carefully as he nurtured his ailing son John for years of illness born of Diabetes to the day John died. That said more than words as to the kind of man he really is.
  • He has faced his own difficulties in these late life years with humor and grace. When others might have complained, he has stood firm and strong.
  • He has been the stability in his family’s life. I guess you expect that but he has done it without imposing his own will or influence above what a loving father would bring.

The world is a better place for his time on it. He is leaving a legacy of making the woodpile higher than he found it. He has paved a path many of us travel in big footprints worthy of imitation.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then my flattery has been disguised as love and admiration of one of the best men I ever know.

Earl H Redlin

An OKIE Speaks

Merle Haggard. "I'm Proud to be an OKIE from MUSKOGEE". Red White and now much more Blue than he used to be. He commented in the article printed in the Sun Times today that a few years ago when everyone turned right he turned left. I think with him it's more than just being an iconoclast.

He is like a lot of us who have traversed time and remember a few painful lessons of the past. As my brother John used to quote constantly, "Those who fail to remember the past are condemned to repeat it". He had a poster which hung on his dorm wall. Others had Farah Faucett. He had George Santayana.
The Okie may have a point we need to hear.

"It's a question of mine," Haggard said. "If we're going to die in wars somewhere every day and fight for freedom, it [freedom] shouldn't be some watered-down version like we're living in now. We've added so many different levels of security here at home, they're fighting with each other. We should adapt some of the arrogance of our president and stand straight up again. That's what the song is about."

Then Haggard sang, "...After a soldier fights / should we read him his new rights? / There's not that many to read anymore / Where's all the freedom we're fighting for?"

He continued, "The reason we have these soldiers dying all over the world is so we can be free here. And we're not free! There's so many different levels of police that have been added since Sept. 11 that we can't afford. Why do we want to break the airlines? Why are we so in tune with everything happening in North Korea, but nobody knows what's happening in Phoenix? There's roads and bridges to be fixed in this country. This is a country that's worn down. This is democracy supposedly in its best form, and we're not getting that kind of reality here."

If you read my blog you will my recall the tirade against the TSA. Phony baloney security designed to give the impression of safety but in fact accomplishing nothing but harassment. The elephant stampede brigade has accomplished the same effect. The TSA advocates always trot out the same blather. "We haven't been attacked since 9-11". I haven't been run over by a herd of elephants either. I know, we were attacked on 9-11. In some places in the world people were run over by elephants. I don't disagree with the effort. I disagree with the emphasis of form over function.

If you have traveled internationally as I have post terrorism you don't see the kind of window dressing bullying of passengers in Germany or Israel that you do here. Who's more secure?

"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose, nothing don't mean nothing if it ain't free"; we are reaching that point. You are about to be made free to do nothing.