The Nasty Truth

Caricature of Boss Tweed by Thomas Nast

Caricature of Boss Tweed by Thomas Nast

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“Your assumptions are
your windows on the world.
Scrub them off every once in a while
or the light won’t come in.”
Isaac Asimov

“Don’t judge a man
by his opinions,
but what his opinions
have made of him.”
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

“Day by day, your choices,
your thoughts, your actions
fashion the person you become.”
Heraclitus

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Okay.  Recent events have elicited public debate on a variety of issues, and quite frankly the preaching, I mean, comments from some have been disappointing.

Now, a good healthy debate never hurt anyone.  In fact, in my home we encourage opinions and open discussion on any and all topics.  However, there is a difference between explaining your position, and shoving it down someone’s throat.  One promotes healthy discussion and inspires change, while the latter does nothing more than leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

Normally, I do not like talking politics…with anyone.  Talking politics generally gets people riled-up and they begin to turn.  They turn into something ugly.  Have you noticed?  Certainly, you’ve seen some of the comments I have lately (on both sides of the issues).  And when some engage in overly opinionated talk of teams or parties or divisions and who’s better than whom or which one is right vs. who is wrong, it can escalate from warm conversation to Armageddon argument in nano-seconds.

When confrontations flare, people change and morph into caricatures of themselves.  And it’s not pretty.

Caricature is defined as the following:

  1. picture or description exaggerating the peculiarities or defects of persons or things.
  2. Any imitation or copy so distorted or inferior as to be ludicrous.

When people argue positions and politics, exaggerated defects within themselves begin to emerge.  They become mean, condescending, high-minded, holier-than-thou, and ludicrous (that’s a good word).  They become something Thomas Nast would have a hay-day with. Continue reading

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Grace

GodsGrace Light

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“What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country…”
Robert F. Kennedy, April 4, 1968

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Yesterday was a historic day – as is now well-known, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage for all. It was also the day of the funeral for Senator Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of the victims of the shooting that happened a little over a week ago.

You will recall that on Wednesday, June 17, a young white man entered a church in South Carolina where a bible study group was meeting, and shot and killed 9 people, including Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a senator for the state of South Carolina. Once arrested, the shooter said that he intended to start a “race war”.

Yesterday, President Obama – a long-time friend of Rev. Pinckney – stood before a crowd of nearly 6000 people and delivered a eulogy that was astoundingly beautiful and stirring. His theme was grace. Continue reading

Who Is My Neighbor?

The Good Samaritan by Walter Rane

The Good Samaritan  by Walter Rane

“Resolve to be tender
with the young,
compassionate with the aged,
sympathetic with the striving,
and tolerant of the weak and the wrong. Sometime in life you will have been
all of these.”
Lloyd Shearer

“If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.”
John F. Kennedy

One day while hanging out in a local Starbucks with a mixed group of intellectuals and religious people, Jesus and a Lawyer got into a little neighborly discussion.

A certain lawyer stood up, saying, Master, What shall I do to inherit eternal life?
Luke 10:25

The question was simple and straightforward, but the intention behind the question was not.  It was a trap.  This Lawyer was trying to lure Jesus into a debate.  Jesus wasn’t in the mood for contention, so he turned the tables and answered the Lawyer’s question with a question. Continue reading

Theodora & Justinian: Reign of Equals

Port of Constantinople by Ivan Aivazovsky

Port of Constantinople by Ivan Aivazovsky

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“One’s not half of two; two are halves of one.”
― E.E. Cummings
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Why write about an Emperor and Empress who ruled a forgotten empire 1500 years ago?

Sure, they lived around 500 AD in what is now Istanbul, Turkey. They spoke the dead languages of ancient Greek and Latin. Most of us have a hard time even pronouncing “byzantine” (biz-an-teen). But I like to think that Theodora and Justinian have more to teach us than we might realize.

As I explained in my last post, they lived something close to a fairy tale –  two ordinary kids from the lowest social classes one day found themselves Emperor and Empress of the Byzantine Empire. Yet the story of Justinian and Theodora endures beyond their rise and flows into their reign: one that defined their empire for nearly 1000 years, and still stands as one of the greatest examples of a power couple at work in history.

And I’ll be the first to admit it: I am a huge fan of Theodora.

Let me back up a little bit and give you a sense of what this very strange Byzantine Empire was. Continue reading

Lift

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lend-a-helping-hand

“We make a living by what we get,
but we make a life by what we give.”
Winston Churchill

“He is not great who is not greatly good.”
William Shakespeare

“For we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus unto good works,
which God hath before ordained
that we should walk in them.”
Ephesians 2:10 KJV

The Apostle Paul said those last words to the Ephesians, but they were intended for us as well.  We are created by a great God to do great works.  He invites us to use this life to look out for one another – to serve.

I saw the most honest and inspiring example of this on a video message. Had to share it with you. Continue reading