Thursday, November 13, 2008

Remembrance Day

I know it's 2 days past Veteran's Day/Remembrance Day/Armistice Day, but better late than never, right?

A friend sent me an article that was slightly more intellectual than I think I was capable of absorbing with background noise of JrBravesFanatic building massive block towers on a wooden table. But, these were my comments to her on it and I thought I'd share:

As an amateur historian, I've studied WWII and its aftermath quite a lot as well as spending my life in total awe of my step-grandfather who served as a Marine Raider in the Pacific. Yesterday we watched a 1943 movie about a man who served as a spy in the ranks of the Nazi SS, which led us to speculate on how horrible it must have been to have to pretend that the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis were no big deal. If we value life, we have to be affected at the loss of it, whether in war or in peace. This is where I could get on my soapbox and decry the desensitization of our culture and its subsequent affect on Remembrance Day/Veteran's Day. If, after all, we count human life as cheap, then what would it matter that there are men and women who have served our country in wartime who bear the internal scars that come from witnessing atrocities? But the author of the article was focused on our response as Christians, not that of the culture at large. The question I see is--is there a difference? Do we really remember the death and resurrection of Jesus? Or is it another in a long line of stories far removed from our daily lives--stories like those about the men who liberated the concentration camps and were never the same again?

This is the lesson that history can teach us--that our lives are a gift, made possible in large part by the deaths of many.

Thank you, Veterans, for what you've done for all of us. And for my fellow historians, may we never tire in our efforts to remember yesterday for the good of tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Charity Knitting spotlight, part 3 which I remember that every stitch counts and every idle moment could be filled with stitches...

While researching the info we need for Operation Christmas Child this year (shoe boxes are due Nov. 17th--yike, that's 12 days from now!) I ran across an article on the Samaritan's Purse website about a woman who definitely "gets it" when it comes to knitting for charity. Yet another example of how, in this life, it's the little things that matter--how I spend my time every day adds up to the life I'm living. I've found that, for me, the more I can knit for charity, the more I'm reminded how blessed I am. Years ago when I was selling books for a living, life could be stressful, with deadlines, employees, customers, and huge stacks of books all vying for my attention. I had a friend who sold books in another state, and no matter the stress I faced, I knew I could always call her and I'd feel better. She dealt with the craziest, most unexpected challenges in her store and we would laugh about how there was always someone with worse problems out there, and it was usually her. Knitting for people in need makes my needs seem smaller and less important. It makes me say things like "in the grand scheme of things" and "someday we'll find this moment hilarious" and "I love you".

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Election Day minus 3

First, some history...

During WWII, our boys were sent into battle after having been taught that the enemy was not comprised of individual men--regular guys with parents, sweethearts, wives and children. They were, for the most part, convinced that the enemy were nothing more than dirty, Godless Nazis, Fascists, and Japs. How else could we send boys raised in a Judeo-Christian belief-system to kill other people--lots of other people? It's called dehumanization. Your enemy isn't really a human, rather something much less important, and much more dangerous, an animal with orders from a tyrant.

And now...

Election time draws near (finally!), and I see a similar trend has emerged. The political pundits on both sides are working overtime to revile and slander, to dehumanize the opposition until it is easy to see the Godless, freedom-hating threat to our country, personified in Candidate A. Or B, or C, depending on which side has your ear. And as good little Americans do on both sides, we listen, we repeat what we hear, and we begin to believe that our way is the only way and any other way leads to catastrophe or worse.

I am very thankful we have so much freedom of speech. Without it, the political pundits would not get paid for what they do, they'd be jailed for it. And forget blogging! What I'd like to remind us who claim to be Christians is that we are to be salt and light--somehow different from those around us. Our views should be shaped less by the media and more by the Bible. Naturally we have the freedom to listen to whomever we choose, (and to vote for whomever we choose) but when we start spouting, I mean, talking about politics, can anyone really tell a difference between us and CNN?

Does it really help your cause to bash your opponent? To dehumanize him or her? Have we forgotten that it says somewhere that "all men are created equal and are endowed by God with certain inalienable rights..."? That the opposition's candidates are individual people, regular guys and gals with families and passions and the courage to run for political office? Doesn't anyone else remember hearing the same warnings of dire consequences in 1992??

I'd like to challenge those of my readership who are Christians to pray before you speak. Sounds easy, I know, but I'm not through with you yet. Stop for a moment and re-think your "Oh, God, if you don't do something now, that awful heathen will ruin our country, and isn't it time to use that fire from heaven thing again???" prayers, and remember what Jesus taught us.

He said:
"You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that." Matthew 5:43-47

"But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken." Matthew 12:36

Isn't it possible that He meant for this to be true even now?