Monthly Archives: March 2013

joe webb writes

redflagThere’s a story in the Bible where Jesus talks about a field where a man planted a crop of wheat. While he was sleeping, an enemy snuck into the field and planted weeds. The wheat and the weeds grew together, intermingled. The man’s servants offered to pick through the field and remove all the weeds. But the man refused to let them. Instead, he told them to let both the wheat and the weeds grow together. Later, when the time came for the harvest, they could be separated and the weeds could be burned.

Later, Jesus explains to his closest followers that he is the sower, the field is the kingdom of God, and the enemy is the devil. The wheat is the people of the kingdom, the weeds are those who do evil. In theological terms, it’s what we call an eschatological story…a story about how God achieves his…

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Categories: Miscellany | 1 Comment

Steubenville

Steubenville has been on my mind much of late. I’m talking of course about the highly-publicized rape case that went went viral via the cell phones of several young people who witnessed the event (yet strangely, no one seemed inclined to stop it). Just kids being kids? Or kids being foolish? Or kids being evil? Or kids being human? I don’t really know. I just know it makes me sad. And mad. And thankful. I know I was young once and did foolish and evil and human things. In fact, sometimes I still do.

But this case haunts me. How do we stop things like this? How do we protect young people from each other and themselves? How do we protect women from whatever it is that motivates some men to see them as little more than pieces of meat? How do we protect men from the moral degeneration of such attitudesI honestly don’t know. The world has been around a long time and this type of thing (and even worse) has been around with it. It would be easy to fall into hopelessness. I mean, shouldn’t a person–however young–understand the wrong of such behavior? Hasn’t dad or mom or teacher or pastor or someone taught these young men you should never violate another person like that? Should we even need a teacher to teach us that?

So, all my thinking has produced only these two things. First, I need to make a better effort in my own life to truly respect women. To see them not even primarily as women but as people just like myself. They have a life and hopes and dreams and everything else I have. And some of them have more of it. More smarts, and courage and character and every other positive human attribute. Yes, I already know all these things. So does everyone who will read this. But do you believe it? There are obviously many men, and not a few women, who don’t.

The second thing that won’t leave me is this. And this is primarily to any male readers. It is NEVER permissible to touch a woman sexually unless she completely, utterly, consents. What she is wearing, what her past history is, whether she has been drinking, whatever–they are ALL irrelevant. Is it foolish to get drunk to the point of passing out? Yes. But SO WHAT? Many things are foolish. But NO ONE deserves to be raped because they were foolish or immature. There is NO SUCH THING as “asking for it”. And if you believe otherwise, you are part of the problem.

Categories: Mind, Miscellany, Spirit | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Let’s Talk About Money

Specifically, let’s discuss the reality that I have very little of it these days.

I cannot lie, since leaving my previous career path last summer there just isn’t as much of the green stuff to go around in my world these days. I also will not pretend that the lack of green doesn’t cause moments of occasional stress. My life is different. There is a good deal less sureness in my world. I have to think before I spend and decide exactly how to pay which bills in what order. I have to bounce things around a bit to make sure there is food in the cupboard and fuel in the heater. I have to work harder to make sure the lights stay on and the debts are paid. I really didn’t plan to be at this place at the age of fifty.

Having said all that, some truths are emerging. I’m discovering things I knew but didn’t believe. For instance, a person really can be happy with less. The list of things we need is much, much smaller than we believe. I continue to have food and shelter, my bills are being paid, and with these things I am learning  to be content. The truth is I have an unhealthy attachment to stuff, despite a lifetime of preaching against materialism. Addiction comes in many forms. Some addictions obviously bring great suffering into the world, but all of them do to some degree. Just because I can’t see the sweatshop conditions that exist to meet my wants because those conditions are around a corner of the world, doesn’t mean those conditions don’t exist or that I am not contributing to them.  So if I can make a dent in that reality, even a small one, my lack of “disposable income” not only can be but is an actual improvement in the world. In that very real sense I am better off with less.

I’m also seeing the truth of what Jesus said about  worrying. It can’t make single hair blond or black (but it can certainly make them gray or perhaps even fall out). We spend so much time living where we are not. Maybe it’s a past that cannot be changed or a future that cannot seen. Maybe it’s in the places we imagine to be the halls of power such as Washington or London or Berlin or the corporate boardrooms on Wall Street. Why is it so hard to see the irony here? When we imagine the halls of power to be in other places and the decisions of power to be in other people we create that reality in ourselves. We actually give other people control of the state of our minds and hearts.

While certainly we should speak to the things we understand to be evil in the world (firmly, carefully, with gentleness and grace), we must not make the mistake of surrendering the power of our lives to others. We do this when we invest in actual circumstance as opposed to our management of our response to it. The question is not what will or will not happen–but how will we live whatever happens? Will we live whatever happens? Many is the soul who has found more life even in death itself than others who have biologically existed into old age but never really seen anything beautiful or lovely or praiseworthy because they kept waiting on circumstance to meet their expectation–because they kept living somewhere other than where they actually were and thereby not really living at all.

So, I find myself with less these days but actually having more. No, “having” is not the word I’m looking for. Our lives do not consist of the abundance of the things we possess. Living is actually the word I am looking for. Embracing uncertainty, breathing deeply, finding joy even in mundane labor. Savoring my life and the people in it and the small acts of generosity I am graced to give and receive. Tasting my food and drink with mindfulness and seeing the beauty and tragedy in the world all around me every day. When I think about it like this, less really is more. But it’s not having–it’s being.

Categories: Mind, Miscellany, Spirit | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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