Three Things I Wish People Would Stop Harping On
Dec 18th, 2012 by Sonja

This is my list …

1.   It is definitely about guns.  But it’s about a specific kind of gun.

Specifically, it’s about semi-automatic weapons.  Fully automatic weapons have been banned for personal use/protection for a long time now.  This is about the ease of getting semi-automatic weapons into the hands of just about anyone.  Regulating and/or limiting sales of both semi-automatic weapons and their ammunition clips should be as automatic as regulating Tylenol, or the food we eat or any of the other things our government does.  There are more regulations concerning the production of play ground slides than there are concerning the production and sales of semi-automatic weapons.  Why?  Because we (as a culture) have decided that safety for children is more important than the rights of slide manufacturers to make a substandard product.

“And don’t say that it won’t make a difference because crazies will always be able to get a gun. We’re not going to eliminate gun deaths, any more than we have eliminated auto accidents. But if we could reduce gun deaths by one-third, that would be 10,000 lives saved annually.”  (Kristoff, Do We Have the Courage To Stop This)We have reduced automobile deaths by (hold up) regulating the amount of liquor one may consume and then drive a car.  Why?  Because we have decided that the rights of other drivers and their safety are more important than the right of a drunk to consume large quantities of alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car.

2.  Let’s leave certain aspects of God out of the discussion.  A proper focus on theodicy is fine; whether or not children are allowed to say the Lord’s prayer in schools is a red herring.  This is not about prayer or the lack thereof.

Theodicy is the study of evil as it relates to God.  How can there be a God if S/He allows this sort of evil in the world?  What if God intervened in all the evil that goes on in the world?  Why do we ask why God didn’t stop this and refuse to ask that same question of ourselves?  Why don’t we ask the hard questions about what we have done (as communities and as individuals) to sustain the culture of violence?  I don’t have any answers to those questions.  But I do know that we’ll get no where until we begin seriously asking them.

Those people (and their voices are shrill) who believe that this kind of thing is a judgement of God on _________ (fill in the blank with the moral objection of the moment).  James Dobson made ill-advised comments in this regard just yesterday:

Our country really does seem in complete disarray. I’m not talking politically, I’m not talking about the result of the November sixth election; I am saying that something has gone wrong in America and that we have turned our back on God.

I mean millions of people have decided that God doesn’t exist, or he’s irrelevant to me and we have killed 54 million babies and the institution of marriage is right on the verge of a complete redefinition. Believe me, that is going to have consequences, too.

And a lot of these things are happening around us, and somebody is going to get mad at me for saying what I am about to say right now, but I am going to give you my honest opinion: I think we have turned our back on the scripture and on God almighty and I think he has allowed judgment to fall upon us. I think that’s what’s going on

That’s a nice tidy answer, but it’s meaningless.  It would be nice to think that going back to some earlier, (and misconstrued as) simpler age would or could ensure that frail human beings would not behave this way.

3.  It is definitely NOT about mental illness.

We have a habit of responding to outlandish things that people do by attributing it to mental illness.  It’s become a flip reaction to human behavior we don’t understand.  The problem is that with the exception of a very small group of people (untreated paranoid schizophrenia) most people who struggle with mental illness are not violent and do not go on the attack like this.

As a group, people with mental health issues are not more violent than any other group in our society. The majority of crimes are not committed by people with psychiatric illness, and multiple studies have proven that there is very little relationship between most of these diseases and violence. The real issue is the fact that people with mental illness are two and a half to four times more likely to be the victims of violence than any other group in our society.

An interesting paradox to consider is this … we do not consider our military leaders to be mentally ill.  Indeed, we hail their heroism in battle.  Yet how many of them have ordered and/or undertaken mass killing of innocents.  We call that collateral damage and absolve ourselves of the deaths.  Those women and children, grandpas and grandmas are all loved by a family.  Families just like those in Newtown, CT.  We wreak havoc on them without pause and call it heroism.

Do we need to have a national conversation about mental health care and how mental illness is perceived in this country?  Absolutely.  It is a must, linking mental health and gun violence is a bad idea.

We need to consider what our national idols have become and like the abortion debate, we have to decide between competing sets of “rights.”  The right of our school children to anticipate safety and the right of gun owners to have what they want.  And perhaps that is why this argument, like the abortion argument becomes so volatile and emotional.  There are no clear RIGHT answers.  There are only shades of grey which cloud the nuances of the situation.

Blog Action Day – Poverty
Oct 15th, 2008 by Sonja

Blog Action Day graphic

Here it is … the end of the day.

I thought I had nothing.  Several bloggers I know had made me aware of this event and I’ve been thinking about it, but nothing came to mind.  And … I’ve been busier than a blue bottle fly as my grammy used to say.  So it just wasn’t happenin’ … no big deal.  I could let it pass without participating.  I’ve done that before.

But then I read two things.  This fact over at

“Americans spend 450 Billion dollars a year in Christmas. It is estimated that it would cost 10 billion dollars to SOLVE the clean water shortage around the planet that causes a majority of diseases in the third world.” and Crystal credits Troy Kennedy, who in turn quotes The Advent Conspiracy for the source of that information.

A short time later I read an article in the BBC that today is also World Handwashing Day sponsored by the United Nations.

The UN says it wants to get over the message that this simple routine is one of the most effective ways of preventing killer diseases.

Nearly half the world’s population do not have access to adequate sanitation.

The main concern seems to be cleaning one’s hands after using the bathroom and before food preparation and consumption.  That’s reasonable.  And it’s what we teach our children, for good reason.

It seems like a great idea.  But then I remember these stories from Jimmy Carter’s latest book (these quotes come from pages at the Carter Center website):

Onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness, is a disease affecting 18 million people in 37 countries worldwide. River blindness is transmitted by black flies, which deposit the larvae of the Onchocerca volvulus worm into the body. Over the course of a year, these larvae mature within the human host at which point the adult worms mate and the female worms release their embryonic microfilariae. These microfilariae cause debilitating itching and inflammation, and may eventually infiltrate the eye where they cause damage and diminished eyesight.  If left untreated, the infected person can become permanently blind.

The ancient Guinea worm parasite, while not usually fatal to its human hosts, can grow up to three feet long inside the body before emerging slowly through a blister on the flesh. The disease is contracted by drinking water that contains the microscopic Cyclops flea, which eats and carries parasitic Guinea worm larvae. In the host’s stomach, the flea is broken down, leaving the male and female worm larvae free to cruise undetected through the body until they find one another and mate. The male dies, while the impregnated female grows not fat but long before emerging blindly into the African sunshine some nine months to a year later, typically on the lower limbs. The emergence of “the fiery serpent” causes a painful burning sensation, often sending victims to the nearest water source to soak the sore, which begins the cycle anew: when it hits the water, the worm releases thousands of new larvae. 

I read that book a couple of years ago and the mental visages stuck with me.  It seemed as though washing one’s hands in water that might be infested like this would be spitting into the wind.  We think of washing our hands and the picture we get is of running water, clean sinks, drains and a clean town with which to dry our hands when we’re done.  But what if we only have pest infested water, or fetid rain water caught in a rusty barrel sitting around brooding mosquitos to wash our hands in?  Or to drink?

The numbers are huge and staggering.  So big that we cannot comprehend them.  The numbers of people dying, living blind, living poor, living hungry.  The amount of money it would take to change that is huge too.

It would take 2% of a Christmas.

About 1% of a financial crisis.

Would we wipe out poverty?  No.  But at least people would have clean water.  Then maybe they could start taking care of the rest of it themselves.    What if we put something besides small change aside?

But those numbers, those numbers are so damn big.  I can’t get my head around them.  There’s not a collection plate in the world that’s big enough.  Everyone is working on it, talking about it, moaning about it.  But at heart, we’re all still essentially selfish. We don’t want to give up our Christmases and our Wall Streets.

Until that changes, nothing else really will.

Mar 21st, 2008 by Sonja

Every once in a while Jewish traditions cross with Christian traditions in odd ways. They make for interesting bedfellows because of the foreshadowing and stories that the Jewish traditions raise for us. This year is one such year.

Tonight at sunset begins the Jewish holiday of Purim. This is the feast which celebrates the deliverance of the Jews from a death sentence; a holocaust of sorts in the 5th century BC. It’s a wonderful story filled with love, lust, greed, princesses and princes. I’m only surprised that the artists at Disney haven’t gotten hold of it yet. Last year I had the opportunity to tell the story in a unique fashion. In the first person, so to speak. I spoke with a heavy accent, like the aunts in My Big Fat Greek Wedding … so read the following with that voice in mind.  Oh, and spit when you say Haman (just for effect):

I am Esther. No … no, no, no. Not THAT Esther. I am her granddaughter. (Laughs a little) … oh look at me … I am not beautiful enough to win the heart of a king. Not even in my youth. My grandmama … now she, oh she was a different story.

And she could tell some stories too. I was never quite sure which ones to believe. But I loved it when she called me over to her wing for tea in the afternoon. It was our special time. I’m named for her, you see, so we had a special friendship. We’d relax on the pillows and drink cup after cup of tea. She’d allow the eunuchs to bring it to her, but then she’d shoo them off. She never did get used to having so many servants around. She liked to pour her own, you know.

Now me, I’ve always lived in this beautiful city Shushan. I get a little nervous when my husband thinks about leaving town for the country side in the summer. But grandmama, she grew up at the country place. It was second nature to her. She and Uncle Mordecai (may his name be blessed) lived there for the longest time. Her parents died when she was very young and he was all she had left in the world. He had never married (he was what we used to call a “funny” uncle … may his name be blessed … ), so he took my grandmama in.

So, today we celebrate Purim, the festival of Lots. Now here is the funny thing. My very grandmama, Esther, told me that this holiday is about her. That we are even now celebrating her story. Well. I find that almost too big to be believed. So. I will tell you the story she used to tell me while we lay about on our pillows, sipping tea. Then you will tell me if you think it is true or not.

Grandmama and Uncle Mordecai (may his name be blessed) had been living out in the country side in a little town by a lake until she was a young woman. They were doing well in this little town, but when Grandmama grew older the town’s busybodies began to busy themselves with Uncle Mordecai (may his name be blessed) and Grandmama. So they left for larger and more anonymous pastures, he being a “funny” uncle and all. They came to the city of Shushan and he was able to establish his business once more.

Shortly after they arrived and settled in, the King’s messenger came through the streets announcing an interesting beauty contest. It seems that the queen had shamed him at a party and she was now the former queen. He was looking for the most beautiful and poised girl in the land to become his new queen. Uncle Mordecai and Grandmama looked at each other. Grandmama was thinking, “Well, I’m glad I have no chance at that! Now let us proceed with our work.” Uncle Mordecai (may his name be blessed) was thinking, “How blessed am I to be the uncle of the most beautiful and poised woman in all the land!! Now I must proceed with my work.” And he gained her acceptance of the idea that she would enter the contest.

Poor grandmama. I and my parents grew up in the royal court. We understand the intrigue and the servants and the gossip. Grandmama was a simple country girl. Beautiful, intelligent and poised. But innocent and naive in the ways of the court. She told me many times over of the miracles and amazing tales that gained her the crown. But I cannot recall those rambling reports. The end result however was that Grandmama was chosen to become Xerxes queen. Who knew a simple Hebrew country girl could become Queen of all Persia?? But that’s exactly what happened. Of course, Uncle Mordecai (may his name be blessed) helped with some of the strategy, and Grandmama was fortunate to have drawn the favor of the best of the court eunuchs. King Xerxes was blinded by Grandmama. I’ve seen the mosaics from the time. She was perfectly lovely.

Grandmama and Uncle Mordecai decided that it would be best if she kept her heritage a secret. Hebrews were not exactly popular in Shushan back then. There weren’t too many of us. We’d drifted north after the diaspora, and many of us had originally been taken as slaves. In later years we’d won our freedom, but were still living outside of Israel. There wasn’t much to go back to. There still isn’t … although I’ve heard that some are gathering now to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem and are following a new leader called Nehemiah. My own grandchildren have said they will go to join him. Me, I’m not so sure …. I think I’m too old to travel that far. But to see the Temple before I die, it would do these old eyes good.

Well … Grandmama made herself busy learning the duties of being Queen and more, learning the intricacies of the royal court. OY!! What a mess. She’s told me more stories about her faux pas. And … she lived in mortal fear of the consequences of her mistakes. After all, Vashti had been banished for simply refusing to dance one night when the King and his friends were drunk.

In the meantime, Uncle Mordecai (may his name be blessed) continued to build his business and went about town freely. Until one day when he passed through the city gate and neglected to properly pay his respects to the King’s advisor, Haman (may his name be cursed). Now Uncle Mordecai meant no disrespect of Haman. Uncle Mordecai, as a proper Hebrew, did not bow or scrape to any man.

Haman (may his name be cursed) could not rid himself of the image of Uncle Mordecai (may his name be blessed) refusing to bow to him … in public … in (of all places) the city gate … the place to be! Did Uncle Mordecai not know who he was dissing? No, Uncle Mordecai was unconcerned. Haman knew, just KNEW, he had been humiliated. He began to lurk in the places that Uncle Mordecai frequented to see if Uncle Mordecai would bow to him. He had himself announced to see if, perhaps, UM had simply made a mistake. But, NO! Uncle Mordecai (may his name be blessed) simply kept about his business as if Haman (may his name be cursed) did not exist. And Haman’s rage grew. And grew. And grew.

In the course of his obsession, Haman (may his name be cursed) discovered that Uncle Mordecai (may his name be blessed) was a Hebrew. So Haman hatched a plan to exact his revenge … not simply on Uncle Mordecai, but on all of Uncle Mordecai’s people as well. He was a clever man and he presented Uncle Mordecai’s insolence to the King. But the way he told it, the whole Hebrew people might at any time be insolent in just sucha manner to the King. Haman (may his name be cursed) concluded that the best and most efficient manner of managing this problem would be to kill all the Hebrew people. Kill them so that none of them would ever dis him or the King again. And everyone in the empire would know what becomes of those who do not give proper respect to the King or his advisors.

Haman (may his name be cursed) presented this plan to the King with all appropriate supplication and whining. And the King bought the idea that Haman was selling! So they rolled the dice to see which day would be best to kill all the Hebrews throughout the empire, thus protecting Haman (and the King) from further disgrace. The date was set for the 13th of Adar. The edict was sealed with the King’s seal and sent out into all the land, but the city of Shushan was bewildered.

Now, Uncle Mordecai (may his name be blessed) put on sackcloth and ashes when he read the edict. Indeed, many Hebrews did the same throughout the land. He was, however, able to get a message to Grandmama about the impending doom and urged her to plead the case of her people before the King. She sent word back, “But I cannot. Anyone who approaches the King without being asked first, is put to death!” Uncle Mordecai, replied … “You must. All Hebrews will be put to death and you will be included in that. Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for just such a time as this?”

Then it was Grandmama’s turn to hatch a plan. She sent instructions to Uncle Mordecai (may his name be blessed), to gather all the Hebrews in Shushan and have them fast for three days and three nights. She promised to fast with them. At the end she promised to approach the King. And so. The tables were now turned. It was Uncle Mordecai who was following Grandmama’s instructions.

The next day, Grandmama prepared herself very carefully. She anointed herself with her best perfume and her grandest cosmetics, then she stood at the foot of the throne room in her most beautiful day gown, with her eyes downcast …. just … so. Until at last the King took notice of her and gave her permission to come forward and speak. At that moment she invited the King and his most favored advisor, Haman (may his name be cursed) to a special dinner party that evening. The king was glad to accept. My Grandmama had the best cooks.

At the dinner, the King grew curious and asked my Grandmama, “Now, what is it you wish from me? Just ask … even though it be half of my empire and it will be yours.” Now Grandmama had become very wise to the ways of the King in her short time at court, and knew not to ask right away. So she said, “If you think well of me and if it would make you happy, please just come again to dinner tomorrow night. I will ask you tomorrow. In fact, it would make me happy if both of you came to dinner tomorrow.”

The next day, Haman (may his name be cursed) could not relish his satisfaction at dining two nights in a row with the King and Queen because the bitterness of Uncle Mordecai’s insolences were so sour in his mouth. The only thing that gave him any solace was giving the order to build a gallows for Uncle Mordecai (may his name be blessed). This was his wife’s idea. And he was able to go to dinner that evening with a somewhat lighter heart.

As the serving eunuch poured from the second bottle of wine that night, the King once again inquired of Grandmama, “Now, my sweet young Queen, what is it that you desire from me? Just ask … even though it be half of my empire and it will be yours.”

Grandmama gathered all of her courage into her throat and replied (with her eyes properly downcast and just a shimmer of tears upon her lashes), “Oh, my King. If you think well of me and if I make you happy, I beg of you … please spare my life and more than that, I beseech you to spare the lives of my people. My people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and annihilation. If we had merely been sold as slaves, I would not bother your royal Greatness with such petty details, but we are to be executed in several months time on the 13th day of Adar and I have no one left to turn to.” She said this last with a proper quiver in her voice as one facing execution without crime or trespass.

The King roared his displeasure at the disgrace that was being brought on the royal household, “Who is HE??? Where is the man who has dared to do such a thing?”

And Grandmama revealed the traitor, “The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman (may his name be cursed.”

The King (in a rage) paced about the palace and the garden, whilst Haman threw himself upon Grandmama and her mercy … begging and pleading for his very life. But it was to no avail. The King upon his return, sent Haman (may his name be cursed) to his death upon the very gallows he himself had built for Uncle Mordecai.

Now, I’m not really clear on how it happened next. The King could not undo his own edict with his seal on it. So he sent out a new edict which allowed the Hebrews to defend themselves against all those who hated and despised them. In some towns and cities (such as Sushan) this meant that many people decided to align themseves with the Hebrews (and Uncle Mordecai who had been elevated to the King’s advisor) and so great festivals erupted. But in other places it seems that battles were fought and as many as 75,000 people were killed on that day which was meant for the annihilation of the Hebrews.

Uncle Mordecai (may his name be blessed) next asked for the execution of all ten of Haman’s (may his name be cursed) sons. The King granted him this request. So it came to pass that Uncle Mordecai the Hebrew became the exterminator of Haman the Aggagite. Which has some greater meaning that Grandmama kept trying to tell me about. I forget now.

I only knew Uncle Mordecai (may his name be blessed) in his most declining years. He was a very devout man. Stern, but ever with a twinkle in his eye for little girls with flowers in their hair. He used to tell me stories about Grandmama when she was a little girl, but she was ever so much more obedient than I. She knew how to find the hidden things, how to seek after the important bits. Grandmama and Uncle Mordecai … well … they knew how to find their way back to Adonai in all of this. But, me. I hear this story and I cannot find Him anywhere. Grandmama used to insist that yes, He was at work behind the scenes … I say He was so far behind, he must have been in Egypt. To me, Adonai became the God who hides in this story. Where is He? He is nowhere to be found. Afterall, He is not the God of Xerxes, nor of Haman and that is clear in the destruction they planned for us. He is the God of Uncle Mordecai and of my people and even my people went about killing for sport.

So at last we are at the end of my story … we celebrate this day and this redemption. But I ask you now, do you think this story my Grandmama told me was true? Just how did we come to celebrate Purim? Why is this day so different from all other days?

You can find the real story of Esther in your Bible or click on that link. It’s one of my personal favorites. Where is God in this story? As we enter the days where we commemorate Jesus’ death before the resurrection, I wonder about the presence of Yahweh and how we hear Her. How we act or don’t? Then, when we do, sometimes we carry out not justice, but revenge.

To Guide and Direct
Jan 31st, 2008 by Sonja

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter’s hockey team played a double header on a Saturday afternoon. We had just enough time between games to take the team out to lunch at a local grill. We played a fairly local team from just south of here which we are well matched against. Everyone anticipated some good hockey, hard play and tough skating. There were all of those, and then there were hard knocks, rough language and downright bullying on the ice from the other team. We weren’t anticipating the latter. It spun our girls off balance for a good portion of the first game. Tempers flared, emotions spun and flew and a stick even waved once or twice.

The other team was significantly larger in stature than our team. This is not usually a problem. But it soon became clear that they had a significantly different standard of play than we do. Something was not adding up. Girls who usually skate well and keep their feet were on the ice often. Our team captain took a particularly hard check and was told to, “Stay down, b*tch!” as she lay prone on the ice.

Stay Down B*tch

We lost that first game, 2-1. We took the break, had lunch and refocused the girls on their task … play excellent hockey. CoachWonderWoman gave them excellent advice, “Pretend that the other team is speaking a foreign language and you can’t understand what they’re saying. The power of an insult is carried in it’s result … if you don’t respond, there is no power in the insult.” The team pulled it together after that in an amazing way. The insults had no power over them. The hard knocks continued, but tempers stayed in check. They maintained and they won the second game by one point.

It was a hard, hard day. It was difficult to watch as a parent. There were some brutal hits taken and our goalie was out for the following week with deep muscle bruising from the slashing she took. Hockey can be a rough game and I knew that when LightGirl signed up for it. But it can also be played with finesse, skill and especially good sportsmanship. Good sportsmanship was not in particular evidence that Saturday afternoon.

The girls have moved on since then, the parents have been processing. There has been discussion about whether or not to file an official protest concerning some aspects of the games. I’ve been doing some of that writing. Concensus has gathered around the idea that much of the responsibility for the atmosphere at both games lies with the officiating and with the coaching for the other team. We’ve been considering whether or not to officially complain about the lack of proper officiating at the games and in particular the first game. If proper sanctions been levied against the other team for some of their behavior, some of the injuries to our team might not have happened. Certainly, the excellence of play would have been more evident.

As I’ve been writing and preparing the formal complaint, I’ve also been reading the official rules of hockey. This has been a new education for me, which has been interesting in and of itself. But I was very interested to read the preamble to the rules:

The goal of USA Hockey is to promote a safe and positive playing environment for all participants while continuing to focus on skill development and enjoyment of the sport. All officials, coaches, players, parents, spectators and volunteers are encouraged to observe these “Points of Emphasis” when participating in the sport of ice hockey.

Fair Play and Respect
Fair play and respect are the backbone of any successful amateur sports program. In order for a positive environment to be created, it is imperative that all participants and spectators have respect for all players, coaches, officials administrators, spectators and the sport of hockey. Hockey is a game demanding high levels of concentration and skill.
Intimidation or “bullying” has no place in ice hockey. Any act that includes taunting or teasing of players, coaches, officials, or spectators by means of verbal ridicule, obscene gesture, threat of physical violence, or physical violence itself will not be tolerated at USA Hockey events.
Players are encouraged to develop a deep sense of respect for all (opponents and officials) while endeavoring to enjoy the sport and improve their playing ability. Each player is encouraged to use proper skill and technique when engaging in any type of body contact.
Coaches are responsible for instructing their players to play the sport in a safe and sportsmanlike manner. To that end, coaches are directed to teach only those skills necessary to allow for proper and legal body contact.
Officials should be diligent and confident when officiating the sport. Each official should enforce the playing rules fairly and respectfully.
Spectators are encouraged to support their teams while showing respect for all players, coaches, officials and other spectators.

The whole point of officials and coaches is to make the game safe, enjoyable and a learning experience for everyone. This ain’t pond hockey. It’s about winning, but more than that, it really is about how you play the game. The officials and coaches are there to ensure that a healthy, safe and positive environment is maintained for all players … not just the winning players.

I’ve been thinking about that lately for many reasons. But it came up especially yesterday as I stumbled into a brand new world. I was looking for a word that I couldn’t locate in my organic random access memory, so I Googled around to find it anyway. I found the word, and along the way I found this article – Grief Without God, by Carol A. Fiore. Ms. Fiore is a widow and an atheist. Her husband was a test pilot who died in a flight accident eight years ago. The article recounts the 36 days he spent in the hospital before he died and her experiences with people of faith during that time. To be blunt, they were not positive:

Before I arrived at the hospital just hours after the accident, Eric had been given the last rites by a Catholic priest. On whose authority? During the entire time I lived at the hospital I heard the following comments over and over: “God has a plan”, “God never gives us more than we can handle”, “Put your faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” One respiratory therapist even told me that unless I prayed for Eric, he would die. She’d seen it happen before, she repeated. When the family doesn’t pray, the patient dies. Almost without exception, every single person who visited, called, or sent cards said the same thing “I’m praying for your husband.”

After Eric died I heard the same statements but with a new even more infuriating one thrown in: “He’s in a better place.” What place? He was dead! I can assure everyone that Eric loved life, his family, his job. There was no better place for him than right here. And what of God’s plan? Did these people really believe that their God was watching Eric, out of all the beings in the universe? If so, why didn’t he answer the prayers of more than half the city of Wichita? If there is a God and he has a plan, maybe this is what he was thinking:
Gee, I think I’ll cause a really great guy to crash on takeoff. He’s a test pilot who tries to make the skies safe for everyone, but just for fun I’ll cause the jet to stall, plow into the runway, and catch fire. Then, just to torture the wife, I’ll make her watch the test pilot suffer horrible injuries and burns for 36 days. Then as the final blow, I’ll make sure the small children are present at the moment of death so their lives will be screwed up forever. I will ignore their pleas not to let their Daddy die because hey, I’m God and I can do whatever I want.

I’d really encourage you to read her entire article. It is quite moving and her tribute to her husband is loving and beautiful. More than that, Ms. Fiore raises important questions about the nature of God and the nature of evil in the world which are not easily dismissed with platitudes and euphemisms.

As well, the way she was treated and the easy manner in which people of faith slipped God into a conversation with someone so obviously and decidedly uncomfortable with faith at a time when she was fragile and vulnerable teeters on the thin edge of being abusive. One can certainly look at this behavior and see spiritual manipulation afoot.

So, I’ve been thinking about the parallels between the physical bullying I saw on the ice that Saturday afternoon and the spiritual bullying we often participate in during life events. We think we’re justified because “souls are at risk.” But are they? What is our justification? Is this a game that we should win at all costs? What if our spiritual bullying ends up causing some to choose death? Have we won? Or lost? Who won in this case and who lost … really. Think about that for a minute. We are so caught up in our zero-sum games in our culture that we cannot conceive of a different outcome or a different kind of game.

As is the case with my daughter’s hockey team, it is the responsibility of the leaders and officials to guide and direct us into “fair play” and sportsmanlike behavior. We all need that in order level the playing field and create a positive environment for everyone. You are likely thinking to yourself that that sounds a little hokey right now. But consider this, the second commandment is to what? The second commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. We cannot continue playing zero-sum games and love others as we love ourselves, the two things are mutually exclusive. So we need leaders and officials who will teach us a new way to love others. Who will help us to define it. Then help us to carry it out.

It will not include platitudes, false hope, dishonesty or manipulation.

Refugees …
Aug 21st, 2007 by Sonja

It’s a good thing no one turned away Jewish refugees in 1930’s when they desperately needed places to go to get away from the horrors of Nazi Germany.

Or maybe that’s why Israel feels justified in turning away refugees now … because people did it to them.  One might imagine that they would have empathy for the horrors of war and genocide and offer refuge.

But apparently not.

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