I’m Sick of War
Oct 25th, 2009 by Sonja

And mostly I’m sick of guns!!

I have a 12 yo son.  Lately (as in for the past year) it seems as though the only game he and his friends can play is war of some form or another.  They play it on video games.  They play it with nerf guns.  They play it with air soft guns.  He plays it in his head all by himself.  He and his dad watch WWII movies or Vietnam movies.  They talk battle tactics.

I’m sick of living in a culture that is permeated with war and news of war.  Of living in a society where bomb blasts and mourning top the daily headlines.  And soldiering (killing) is glorified.

Literally … it’s making me sick.

I understand why it’s happening … I’m just sick of it.

UPDATE – I had to put my beloved dog of 8 years to sleep very unexpectedly this afternoon.  The comment thread is now closed.

To Honor and Serve
Jun 1st, 2008 by Sonja

Uncle Ralph

I have three blood uncles.  Two on my father’s side and one on my mother’s.  That’s two brothers to my dad and one brother to my mom.  All three served in the military.  Two (my dad’s brothers) served in World War II.  Interestingly, all of my uncles (by blood or marriage) served in the military.  In my generation, I can only think of three or four cousins (out of about 30) who served.

Yesterday Uncle Ralph, the younger of my dad’s two older brothers, came to town to visit the WWII Memorial.  He came with other WWII veterans in Connecticut and Massachusetts to visit the memorial.  It’s part of a private program that is working diligently to get WWII vets to the memorial before they pass on.  As Uncle Ralph told me yesterday, there are only 10% of the veteran’s left alive today.  One of my older cousins arranged to get my uncle in the program and was his guardian for the trip.

As a pacifist by nature and by choice, I struggle with war and the need for it.  I want to negotiate with evil and find compromises.  I’m not always certain that is possible.  Even though it is my choice.  When I heard about the building of the WWII Memorial I was saddened by the glorification of war.  When I heard about busing vets in to this mecca of war for one last visit, I was cynical.  But our visit there yesterday changed much of that for me.

It was chaotic and messy and slow and hot and beautiful and gracious and happy and the smiles that wreathed those old faces were glorious.  These men (and a very occasional woman) knew how precious life is because life had been lost.  The drums of war were silent here and water in the fountains sprayed and tinkled, reminding us of life lived and worth living.  These were the faces of determination and perseverance in the face of adversity.

Adversity which was not glorified nor was it depicted as something to be put aside.  It is and was a part of life which creates character.  It was that voice that I heard when Uncle Ralph kindly refused the use of a wheelchair, “I never fell out of a 25 mile march and I’ll finish today, thank you, though.”  In his 80’s and he still has something to finish and learn.

I hope I end like that.

Kingdom of Heaven
Mar 9th, 2008 by Sonja

LightHusband loves gadgets. He especially loves electronic gadgets.

I may have mentioned that I lost the battle over the large screen television. Did I mention that? He got a lovely bonus this year. I lost the battle. When we got the television, we got a new gadget to go with it. It’s called Apple TV.

Apple TVApple TV is a network device designed to play digital content originating from the iTunes Store or another computer onto an enhanced-definition or high-definition widescreen television. Apple TV can store content on an internal hard drive or stream it across a network from another computer running iTunes on either Mac OS X or Windows.

LightHusband thinks this is the coolest thing since sliced bread. I am much more understated.

However, last night we were able to go to iTunes on our television screen. Did you see that?? On our television screen … which is as hugelynormous as a small wall. So, we’re at iTunes. We look for movies. We find movies. We search them for a few minutes and find one that looks interesting. We rent it. For $3.99. It downloads. In less than TWO minutes we are watching the movie. No driving. No boxes to lose. No movie to return (or not … ). No fines to pay … and trust me – we ALWAYS pay fines, because we are 12 and not that organized. We/I can watch that movie as many times as we/I want in 24 hours. For three dollars and ninety-nine cents. Amazing.

So, we rented Kingdom of Heaven, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, Eva Green, and Jeremy Irons. It came out in 2005. It was an excellent movie … but beware. It is not for the faint of heart or queazy of stomach. It is a movie which does not hide the violence or filth of the times from the viewer. I wondered if Orlando Bloom washed his hands at any point during the making of this movie as I watched.

It was thoroughly enjoyable. However, without some knowledge of history and/or the religions involved I’d imagine a viewer would be thoroughly bored. But I loved the fact that for the first in history there was a movie made about the Crusades in which the thoroughly evil people were not the Saracens but the Knights Templar. Those radical fundamentalists who could not live except when they were killing innocents of another race. Hate and fear had twisted their faces.

If you love history, the history of Christianity and/or Islam this is well worth a watch. It is historical fiction and the writers have played with some of the history. However the main characters are all real people who were in and around Jerusalem. Who played a part in the fragile peace of Jerusalem in between the 2nd and 3rd Crusades. Who’s to say they didn’t believe they were bringing about a kingdom of heaven?

A Definition of Insanity
Jan 30th, 2008 by Sonja

I’ve had another theory about war and killing knocking around in my head for a number of years now about the difference between the army of empire/invasion and the army of defense. Take a look at the following images that I’ve taken from around the web (I’ve given credit for them) and I’ll explain my theory at the bottom.

Roman Army invading Britain
Roman Army invading Britain – ~55 CE

The Celts who defended Britain
The Celts who defended Britain ~55 CE

Battle of Bannockburn (1314)
Battle at Bannockburn – June 1314

Bannockburn Re-enactment ... Scottish Army
Bannockburn Re-enactment-Scottish Army

British Army during the American War of Independence
British Army in American War of Independence

American Militia during Revolutionary War
Militia in American Revolutionary War

American Army invading Iraq
American soldiers in Iraq

Iraqi Soldiers defending their country
Iraqi Soldiers Defending Their Country

I could have found and used a lot of other images from many other times in history, but these will do. You can do your own GoogleImage search for your favorite wars/battles and you will likely find similar results. Notice the similarities in the invading armies of empire.  Notice the similarities in the defending armies of the indigenous people.  There are many reasons for this.  Empires are well financed and can afford to outfit their soldiers well.  Their soldiers are much safer, have better equipment and arms than the soldiers of defense, for the most part.  It is in the empire’s interest to keep the indigenous people poor and ill-equipped.

Here’s another thing I don’t understand though.  The armies of empire almost always lose.  Oh, it takes a long, long time.  Sometimes longer than others.  But empires always crack and fall; indigenous populations survive.  It may take generations, but over time it is the indigenous people who will overcome the invaders.  There are very few cases where this has not been the case … but the reach of empire becomes over-extension.  The strain of maintaining force in too many places eventually cracks the foundations and the empire breaks apart.

One definition of insanity is repeating the same pattern of behavior over and over again, expecting a different result.  Yet, as a species, we do this.  We continually raise up empires and their armies, send them into foreign lands.  Then wonder why we cannot make the center hold.  What is wrong?  Why does our collective head hurt so badly?

I wonder what would happen if we tried something new?

Instead of sending armies of empire to quell unrest, tax, rape and pillage and behave brutally badly, I wonder what would happen if we simply decided to live well where we are?  What if all the countries did that?  I am aware that this is naive.  We are, however, at a rare point in history, with a rare confluence of circumstances.   What would happen if we decided to be good neighbors, instead of the mayor, police force and justice system all-in-one?

What if …

I Don’t Understand
Jan 29th, 2008 by Sonja

I don’t understand the taking of life.  Honestly, I don’t get it.  I become nauseated when I have to squish a spider or an insect … unless it’s a mosquito; mosquito’s get no quarter.  I’ve been wrestling with this lately.  Here’s how it’s been moshing around in my brain.

We watched Braveheart together for the first time as a family about a week ago.  The LightChildren did not see the end.  We stopped the movie at the scene in which William Wallace is captured.  That’s where it all ended for them.  I cannot even stomach that final scene, I was not going to visit it upon my sweet kids.

I was fascinated by the Battle of Stirling Bridge.  That’s the big battle between the Scots and British … the battle everafter referred to as the “Butt” Battle by the LightChildren, because it is the one preceded by a mooning of the British by the Scots with a salute by raising of the kilts and posteriors in such a way as to mock the British.  We all had a good laugh as we were intended to.

As the battle is filmed the camera cuts back and forth between the British soldiers and the Scottish warriors.  Here are some things I noted about the differences in the armies.  It’s something I’ve often pondered and when I think about it these are “rules” that go back to the dawn of time almost.  The British army (the invaders) were uniform.  They all wore the same thing.  They were heavily armored and protected.  Notably they were also cloned.  They weren’t actual clones, but their armor made them all look alike.  You could not tell one from another; they were faceless, nameless units of destruction and killing.  They operated on command and as a unit.  They did not move or react unless told to do so.

On the other hand the Scottish army was at the other end of the armed spectrum.  Every soldier was different.  They all carried different weapons; whatever they had in their home at the time they left.  The same for their armor, what little they had (hand shields for the most part).  Their primary source of energy was their wits.  They operated on a whim and on their hearts.

Now, here’s the meat of what I don’t understand.  The Scots were fighting to regain control of their land, lives and their freedom.  Those are things worth sacrificing your life for.  They are worth fighting for and risking your life for.  But I have never been able to understand how men (and now women) march into battle without those things at risk.  The British Army were not defending anything.  The men on the ground fighting risked punishment if they didn’t and dying if they did.  But, really, I’d take the punishment over dying.

I’m not saying this very well.  The powers that seek to gain empire are never the schmucks who do the actual fighting or take the actual risk.  The powers must seek out others to do their dirty work for them.  But there is nothing to be gained for those doing the dirty work, because the prize goes to the powers.  So, I’ve never understood how they go about getting the battle fought for empire.  I just don’t understand …

Let Them Eat Cake
Jan 11th, 2008 by Sonja

Homeless Kenyan Man

I ended yesterday’s post wondering if it really matters and I quoted “Crumbs From Your Table” – a song by U2. If you click that link there, you can listen along as you read the lyrics below:

From the brightest star
Comes the blackest hole
You had so much to offer
Why did you offer your soul?
I was there for you baby
When you needed my help
Would you deny for others
What you demand for yourself?

Cool down mama, cool off
Cool down mama, cool off

You speak of signs and wonders
I need something other
I would believe if I was able
But I’m waiting on the crumbs from your table

You were pretty as a picture
It was all there to see
Then your face caught up with your psychology
With a mouth full of teeth
You ate all your friends
And you broke every heart thinking every heart mends

You speak of signs and wonders
But I need something other
I would believe if I was able
But I’m waiting on the crumbs from your table

Where you live should not decide
Whether you live or whether you die
Three to a bed
Sister Ann, she said
Dignity passes by

And you speak of signs and wonders
But I need something other
I would believe if I was able
I’m waiting on the crumbs from your table

So why should any of us care what happens in Kenya, or any of the African nations? Or the Middle East? Or Asia? Or anywhere but our little neighborhood for that matter? What does it matter to us? I can think of a million different answers to those questions. I think they’re different for different people. But I’m interested in answering them from the perspective of a Jesus follower. Why do I care? Why is it important for someone who follows Jesus to care what happens in the lives of people half-way around the world?

There are still numerous answers to that question. There is, of course, the idea of bringing aid to orphans and widows. Then there is the idea that we must succor the least of these brothers and sisters in the name of Jesus for in so doing we are aiding Him. Those are valid and indeed wonderful reasons for caring about people in the name of Jesus.

I think though, there is a larger reason we need to care. Jesus talked about bringing His Kingdom to pass. He talked about it being here all around us and being not yet. He said when it came to be the deaf would hear, the blind would see, prisoners would be free and the lame would leap for joy. He also said it was here … right now. He said that if we have faith that is the size of a mustard seed we could move a mountain into the sea. We could also bring sight to the blind and sound to the deaf and freedom to the captives … that in our presence the lame would leap for joy! Indeed, this is his Good News that we call the Gospel.

We also call it hope. It is hope for a better world, a better place and a better time. It is hope that my children and their children will play together and that the content of their character will count for more than the color of their skin (MLK, Jr.). It is hope that where you live will not determine the time of your death (Bono). Because in the now, those things are true and yet not true. In the not yet of God’s Kingdom towards which we strive, they will not be true at all … and that is the hope which we extend and push forward.

In caring we become ambassadors of hope. In hope there is reconciliation. Where there is not hope, there cannot be peace. When hope has died, neighbors war with neighbors and burn houses to the ground. When the truth of Love has been extinguished, fighting and war breaks out. No one can love their neighbor when hope has left the building.

We see this time and again throughout history. Marie Antoinette was famously misquoted as saying to the French peasants, “Let them eat cake.” It was a royal solution to a bread shortage. The shortage was not of bread, but of wheat. The royals did not feel the pinch or lack, but the poor did. Poor Antoinette had no clue. Her cloistered, pampered life ill-prepared her for the storms that came her way. She loved her country and her people, but could not give them any hope. The Jacobins and other forces at play in the French Revolution tore at the fabric of hope in the lives of the people.

In India the reverse happened. Gandhi was determined that independence from British rule could be gained without resorting to violence. Instead of tearing hope away from the poorest of the poor, he restored it. The more real hope he gave them that they could be honestly independent, the stronger and more united the Indians became. Yes, there was violence, but the Indians were not fighting amongst themselves … until later (but that’s another story).

Kenya (and Uganda, Somalia, Sudan and the list goes on) is important because we Jesus-followers are to be ambassadors of hope. We must restore hope to the little people. It is the poor who are fighting and dying. It is the little people, the poor, who are hurting and crying. The rich all around the world continue to eat cake; while the poor have no bread. If we are ambassadors of God’s Kingdom in the here and for the not yet, we must bring hope. We must restore sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, freedom to the captives and cause the lame to leap for joy. It is hope, and that hope alone which will restore peace to the country and allow her people to live in harmony with one another; neighbor helping neighbor to overcome the odds.

Restoring Hope:

Christian Mission Aid

OneWorld.net – Kenya … learn more about Kenya overall, follow links and become an expert!

Avaaz.org – send an e-mail that encourages your foreign minister (US Secretary of State) to put pressure on all parties in the conflict to continue mediation.

Global Partners – invest in Kenya’s future: women and children

WorkNets-Help Kenyans – direct connections with Kenyans on the ground during the crisis. I can’t vouch for any of these people or this site, but it looked interesting. Apparently Kenyans can trade phone credits for food?

Amani Ya Juu – a womens cooperative dedicated to peace and hope in Nairobi (here’s where you can donate to help the women in the current crisis)

Restoring Relationship:

The Walrus Blog (ht Achievable Ends)
Mentalacrobatics (ht Waving or Drowning)
KenyaUnlimited Blogs Aggregator

A Kenya Primer
Jan 8th, 2008 by Sonja

I wrote about Kenya the other day. I was a little passionate and perhaps obscure. I’ve had time to sort out my understanding, my knowledge and my senses. I have no direct connection with the unfolding violence and mayhem there, but I find it strangely compelling nonetheless.

I wrote this statement: “Africa is crumbling. In the West we will be held to account for this in some form or another. It is on our shoulders that this mess lies.” I asked these questions: “But … have we done the work of understanding the other? Of knowing who they are? Of truly becoming One with them as God asks us to? Or do we simply wrap our culture on top of theirs like a blanket and hope that it takes?”

In a comment, Janet wrote so succinctly:

I don’t believe the missionaries are the worst offenders… the Colonial powers drawing up national boundaries based around geographical features rather than tribal identity or ancestral lands hasn’t helped. Nor has economic systems of trade that advantage the West. Nor has political covert interference by Western nations… especially in the cold war era by Russia and the U.S. Nor has impositions of political / military systems that work in the West but haven’t perhaps been translated to work with cultural realities. Nor has the world community’s tendency to tolerate the utterly intolerable as if African nations are a special case… we seem far more willing to ignore civil war, genocide and famine there than we are if white people are involved….

I’ve been contemplating that and then there’s my long since misplaced classmate from college.

He stood out even on the first day. I think he was about 6 foot 4 or so. With a smile to match. The purple and gold beanies they made us freshmen wear looked even more ridiculous on him than they did on the rest of us mortals. But Ken wore his with style. The ever-ready grin became his fashion statement. As did the workboots he wore year round. Dunhams. He wore them with shorts or jeans. It didn’t matter. They were his shoes and I never saw him in anything else. No one could keep up with him walking because his legs were so long.

I had several classes with him as the International Relations department at our college was small. So we crossed paths often and had an easy going friendship. Ken … from Kenya. He was smart, funny and good looking. And interesting to talk to. But it was not a deep or long lasting friendship. He was returning to Kenya and I went to college BI. Before Internet. For all intents and purposes I went to college BC (before computer). I typed all of my papers on … get this … a typewriter! So I lost touch with most of my classmates almost immediately upon graduation. My class is still the least reported class in the alumni rag … except for the class just before mine. We’re terrible.

In any case, I’ve remembered Ken from Kenya. I’ve remembered his full name. It’s a name you don’t forget … though I won’t reveal it here. So, when the recent poop hit the fan I began to do some research. I wanted to find him again, if I could, and mostly reassure myself that he was likely okay. I found him alright. What I found gave me pause and made me sad.

I always knew that Ken’s father was a “minister” in the government in Nairobi. I found him alright. It wasn’t hard to do. The name, as it turned out, was fairly well known. Or infamous. Depending upon one’s perspective. As I read articles about Ken’s father I read all the sad stereotypes that come to mind about African government officials. Then I also read heroic things about him as well. It really did depend upon the perspective of the author. The author’s perspective depended upon their ethnic background. Were they Western? If not, what tribe were they from? The answers to those questions really did color the perspective of the author. Western authors tend to view ministerial activities in a very light than African authors. Africans tend to have their perspective colored by their tribal affiliation. So it’s very difficult to sort out where the lines are.

In searching for Ken I’ve had a primer on Kenyan politics for the last 40 years or so. There is a lot to learn. I think it’s important that we in the West learn our lessons quickly and well. The ghosts of Rwanda and Somalia are still too fresh. We cannot afford to let those happen again. Ultimately the responsibility does lie on us. For we did carve up a continent based not upon the people who were already there, but upon a boundary system that was guaranteed to create problems in the future for these people. We have then laid over top of the cauldron of tribal/feudalism a blanket of democracy that is supposed to repair any problems that were created during the colonial period. The blanket has created a warm dark place for the problems to fester and grow … like a rotting wound covered with an unclean bandage.

I thought about attempting to write that primer out here. But I am still unsure of myself. I do not understand the finer nuances of the intertribal conflicts to spell it out yet. Here are the parts I do understand (I think … and I may have missed huge chunks) and there will be a list of links at the end.

Kenya gained independence in 1964 from Great Britain. Her first president was Jomo Kenyatta. He was first prime minister under British rule and then President of an independent Kenya from 1964 to 1978. I believe that he was a member of Kikuyu tribe. This is the main taproot of the violence and unrest that we are seeing today.

The second president of Kenya was Daniel Arap Moi. I believe he was president for 24 years (1978 – 2002). He was a member of the Kalenjin tribe. While he was president the Kalenjin was ascendent, but the Kikuyu tribe maintained it’s hold on power as well.

In 2002 Kenya held it’s first contested presidential elections and Mwai Kibaki was elected president. Kibaki is a member of the Kikuyu tribe (again) This was the first presidential election in which more than one person (man) was running … for real. In late 2007 another election was held and I assume it was accordance with the Kenyan constitution. Mwai Kibaki, the incumbent, ran again. He was opposed by Raila Odinga (a member of Luo tribe) among others. The reason that the presidential results are in question is that most of the parliamentary incumbents were ousted; especially those who were of the Kikuyu tribe. When Kibaki declared himself the victor and had himself sworn in without the election being properly overseen violence ensued.

Given the pattern established by his predecessors (Kenyatta and Moi), it is not unreasonable to think that Kibaki anticipated that he would be in office (by hook or crook) for a number of years. Certainly he anticipated more than five years in power.

Map of Kenya with tribes and ethnic groups

Tribal politics and vendetta relationships are the primary driving forces creating the state in Kenya at the moment. An unspoken issue is that when this generation dies out, there is a vacuum in leadership. The men who drove Africa to independence in the 20th century and have governed her since, have not raised up leaders to replace themselves. There are very few young Africans willing and able to take the reins of government and administration when this generation passes from the scene. The middle class is paltry and small. We, in the West, have done a pitiful job at passing the flower of democracy to the cradle of civilization.

Kenya: Roots of Crisis by Gerard Prunier

Ethnic Tensions Dividing Kenya by Adam Mynott

New Broom For Graft Ridden Kenya by Jeremy Scott-Joynt

African Successes: Four Public Managers of Kenyan Rural Development by David Scott

Where Tribe Is Everything by Geoffrey Clarfield

UPDATE – Because I’m Western my perspective is questionable as well … as you may discover here, in Kenya: Causes and Solutions:

That the elections results were rigged – of that there is little doubt. The hasty inauguration, the blanket banning on the broadcast media, the dispersal of security forces to deal with expected protests – all these have given the post election period the flavour of a coup d’etat. What was not expected was the speed with which the whole thing would unravel. The declaration of the members of the Electoral Commission that the results were indeed rigged only added to the growing realisation that a coup had indeed taken place.

People across the country took to the streets to protest and were met with disproportionate use of force by the police and GSU.

Emotions ran high. And there is evidence that politicians from all sides used the occasion to instigate violent attacks against their opponents’ constituencies. There have been rapes, forced circumcision and forced female genital mutilation. The western media has been quick to describe these as ‘ethnic clashes’ – but then they appear only to be able to see tribes whenever there are conflicts in Africa. What is ignored by them is that the security forces have been responsible for the majority of killings.

How Can We Sleep?
Jan 1st, 2008 by Sonja

When our beds are burning?

I’ve been reading the reports out of Kenya with increasing agony and sense of shame. I read the latest and wept inside. People were burned inside a church. They had fled for sanctuary to a church and it was burned. There is something about the idea of being trapped inside of a burning building with dozens of other people that scares me skinny. It seems like the worst form of torment.

Africa is crumbling. In the West we will be held to account for this in some form or another. It is on our shoulders that this mess lies. And it all brought this home to me. I’ve seen it before, but BlisteringSh33p gave it to me again yesterday:


We gave them our creeds. Then we tried re-writing those creeds for them:

Masai Tree of LifeWe believe in the one High God, who out of love created the beautiful world and everything good in it. He created man and wanted man to be happy in the world. God loves the world and every nation and tribe on the earth. We have known this High God in darkness, and now we know him in the light. God promised in the book of his word, the bible, that he would save the world and all the nations and tribes.

We believe that God made good his promise by sending his son, Jesus Christ, a man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left his home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and man, showing the meaning of religion is love. He was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died. He lay buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day, he rose from the grave. He ascended to the skies. He is the Lord.

We believe that all our sins are forgiven through him. All who have faith in him must be sorry for their sins, be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God, live the rules of love and share the bread together in love, to announce the good news to others until Jesus comes again. We are waiting for him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe. Amen.

But … have we done the work of understanding the other? Of knowing who they are? Of truly becoming One with them as God asks us to? Or do we simply wrap our culture on top of theirs like a blanket and hope that it takes?

How can we sleep while our beds are burning?

Phone Home
Dec 20th, 2007 by Sonja

Way back when … when was it now?

Oh yeah, back when I still had hope and faith in the political system of this country. That would be about 4 years ago. Maybe a little longer ago. It was back when Howard Dean’s campaign for president was gathering steam and before the powers that be in the Democratic party put their foolish heads together to decide that he was unfit. What a bunch of nincompoops. They chose John Kerry as the heir apparent. Because that was a good choice to run against George Bush. I said it then and I’ll say it now … idiots. So, it was late 2003 and I had some hope in our political system.

I joined a few of the grassroots political organizations that were popping up all over the place. I had hope that they might actually change some things around here. Iowa and then New Hampshire dashed my foolish hopes. And the election reminded me of harsh reality. But that’s another blog post.

In any case, I stuck with my memberships … but my activity was reduced to cynical and jaded readings of the e-mails that came through my in-box. One came through today from Move-on.org. I usually just skim it in preview and delete them. But this one caught my attention. They are raising money to send phone cards to the troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea and elsewhere. Okay, you got me now. I’m a sucker for the troops. I may despise the war, but the troops are another story altogether. Being the wife of a disabled veteran and having been married to the Army for umpty-ump years … I know the drill.

So I clicked through to see where it would take me. It took me to their donations page which also had an introduction talking about phone cards for troops. To best of my knowledge they are rounding up donations which will then be used to purchase phone cards for our service men and women in foreign lands. It will also be used to bolster the rolls of Move-on.org. Eh … okay. Two birds, one stone. I get it. But I’d rather just get phone cards, so I did a little bit of searching … very little. I found two places that you can get phone cards for service men and women serving abroad in far away places. One is through the military’s post exchange system. You have to be military or retired military to purchase here, but this is by far the best buy. And it will get the cards into the hands of the troops the quickest and most efficient method possible. But … there is the caveat. Second is through the USO’s (United Service Organization) Operation Phone Home and they will get cards to the service men and women very quickly as well.

So, if you still have some money to do a good deed may I gently suggest that we have many military families in this country who would love to speak with their fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters … well … you get the point. They hardly ever get to phone home and this would be a blessed gift of grace.

Military Card USO - Operation Phone Home

A Line in the Sand
Dec 3rd, 2007 by Sonja

I don’t like drawing those much.  But sometimes ya jus’ gotta.  I did that today with my son.  He asked me a question and I felt my stomach flop over in revulsion.  So I drew a line.  I made a boundary and set a new tradition.

He’s not happy with it.  But I suspect he will live.  I hope it will give us fodder for some conversation over time.

At the very least he will learn never to ask a question that you do not want the answer to.

He asked me if he could play a war game on the computer.  I do not like war games at any time.  At best I merely tolerate knowing that he plays them because he’s a boy and he loves them.  Someday he will have to make his own decisions about peace, violence, love and war.  I cannot make those decisions for him.  Neither can I just remove all of those influences from him now, because that will just make them more tantalizing and appealing … it will also make him more bitter and resentful of me.  So he plays them with some regularity.

He asked me this morning, morning number 2 of Advent, if he could play a war game on the computer.  I felt my stomach turn over.  It wanted to heave.  My brain flashed with pictures of guns, cannons, death, mayhem and madness.  I looked at him for a minute and said, No.  No, you may not play war games on the computer during Advent.  This is a time when we consider the coming of peace.  So … no war.

So, he will have a 25-ish day fast from war games.  I guess I’m going to think about how I will consider the coming of peace in my life in tangible ways too.

Sometimes a line in the sand cuts in more than one direction.

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