An Email and Response

Dear Ken Huber,

It is my belief that since Americans are comprised of humans, that in some way it has always been the land of the special interest and double standard. In fact, I believe it was in the Euro-descendents special interest to drive the Native Americans out. Today we would say there is quite a double standard when the “Bible Belt” upheld slavery as a good Christian establishment. These are only two examples put in the simplest of terms, I could go no but I will not.

Let’s see… people lie. We’re broken. We are all created in this wonderful image of God, having the potential to do great things, perform miracles really, yet many of us can’t view ourselves the way we’re seen by God, so we lie, cheat, steal and act out of a greediness that can only stem from our horrible guilt and low self worth. People who dislike people because of skin color are racist, I think any other rational person would agree that there are many other valid reasons for disliking someone. Sometimes there might be a special need to look beyond one’s reasons for disliking and delve further into cultural differences and why they might exist. Often we are born into things and taught ways of living that seem to never be able to escape us. Do we have that power? Yes, but some people simply cannot believe in themselves enough to tap into it.

While we might spend money to rehabilitate criminals, we also spend millions keeping them criminals. If you have ever met a drug addict who desperately needs help yet has been released and recommended to participate in the government’s version of rehabilitation, i.e. methadone addiction, you might know what I’m talking about. While victims of crime might see little government help there are many non-profits that exist to serve them, most being beneficiaries of government funding for that very reason.

As a former public school teacher myself I know no one, not a single person, who taught homosexuality in the classroom. I am certain there are some out there, but I am also certain as many also talk about God. I must agree that killing an unborn child is wrong, however it is also wrong to execute a mass murderer. Not only is the cost of the death penalty astronomical, my personal reasons for disliking it is that I am not equipped to cast judgment on another’s soul, and that time sitting in a cell forever might be just what he or she needs to meet God and truly seek repentance. I wish that everyone who sins could meet this end (of meeting God), but to take away the chance from anyone is its own tragedy. Burning books or rewriting them is not something I am familiar with, although I am sure that at some point you have read something that you thought should be rewritten. Should we rewrite facts? No. But sadly for many years our history books of “facts” have been slanted to teach children only the facts and parts of facts that we either could not hide or wanted them to know.

 Our threat is much bigger than capitalism, socialism, communism, any of the –isms. Our threat is a lion who comes to kill, steal, and destroy. I promise you that Mr. Obama, whatever you may think of him, is a human and cares a lot more for you than this lion does. If you are religious I pray that you see that thorough reading of the scriptures (not a one or even several line reading without context) will not lead you to believe he is part of Satan’s plan.

Our border with Mexico isn’t closed and it’s killing Americans and Mexicans (excuse me while I step away from the “fact” that it’s costing Americans money). Mexico and the U.S. must work together, the U.S. to tighten up our gun control and Mexico put together a plan for the drugs that are pouring into this country. Reasons why Mexicans are here: to escape a dangerous environment full of (the U.S.’s) guns that flow freely to drug lords because of OUR lack of gun control, OUR money that purchases the drugs, and OUR people that hire illegal immigrants for cheap labor. Are there reasons that the Mexican government needs to take care of as well? Of course, and I excuse none of the corrupt behavior that has led their people here. But your article was not directed at the Mexicans. Google child slavery in the U.S. and I bet you won’t find pictures of little white kids. The financial benefit we reap from that alone is probably more than you or I could ever imagine. It’s a tragedy what we’ve done in that situation and to desire to push out families without a solution is cruel and far away from any of the morals that I hold dear.

American lives have no more value than Mexican, Chinese, Italian, Sudanese, Nigerian…. Our land is God’s land. The Bible says to welcome the alien. Hebrews were long considered aliens in lands they inhabited. Protesting against policies is an individual’s choice, rights are God given and if burning a flag makes you feel better (although I do not know why it would), but I don’t think any of that makes you a terrorist or anything else, most likely just a person with anger issues.

If I can have a nativity scene on my front lawn I am still freer than many Christians living in this world. Why would I want to force my decoration on someone rather than being able to share the story with them in love and joy? It’s such a small thing, a plastic Jesus in a barn, out of the many things we are blessed with. Pornography is a sad problem, and I hope more leaders out there speak out and offer support for such a sad addiction that has affected so many.

However there are many issues that have exploded with the invent of the world wide web, each one another tragedy to lay on the shoulders of the world.   There is money taken from those who work hard, but I believe many of the recipients of those moneys probably do want to work. If not, have you thought about volunteering in a local non-profit to educate in resume, computer and typing skills? Many people just lack the skill building and opportunity that you and I have had.

Parenting exists and in fact I see great strides. Once upon a time fathers had very little responsibility (have you seen those magazine ads from the 50s?!?!) but more and more are stepping in to be part of their kid’s lives. The green movement is motivating people to be healthy and while demise in this area has been grave, there is hope ahead. Sadly many factors contribute to the high diagnosis and medication of the social, mental and emotional disorders we are seeing today.

If you take me to mean I want to give everyone a handout you take me wrong. I want to give everyone a chance to see a different future for them self. Will some take advantage? Of course, we’re human. Some always will. As for the ever increasing disasters we are faced with, I don’t think any man would know how to handle those situations. Now, I am not saying either reaction was right, only that until we hold the office of President we will never know the amount of red tape, strategic planners, etc. etc. that have to be gone through.  I pray that the best that can be done is done.

Government is corrupt and will probably always be so. Think of Jesus living under the Roman Empire. However much he hated it, he did not concern himself with it. He concerned himself with making disciples who could spread God’s love to the ends of the earth. For the first time ever he purported that people were equal. The best we can do is to support those around us, as equals, and answer to a higher authority. Walk like Jesus. Open your arms and bring as much of heaven here to earth as possible. Because that is what the light of Jesus in your life has the opportunity to do.

Lastly, I don’t think the land of the free and the home of the brave ever truly existed. Since our inception someone has been held in slavery, whether for the cheap import of our goods or services we felt was somehow beneath us, and while yes, there are indeed brave men and women here, so there are everywhere. We, a world, were created in the beautiful image of God. Now try to open your eyes and see the good, help a brother and lean not on your empire to take care of you but the mercy, grace and love of a Father.

*I apologize if this is ineloquent or offensive in any way. It is only a reflection of my personal convictions and experiences.

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Expressing your views isn’t wrong. Believing in something with all your heart isn’t wrong. Giving someone an ear to hear them isn’t wrong. Listening while putting yourself in their shoes isn’t wrong.

Could we all do this? Is it even possible? The divisions in our church, in our politics, in our daily lives have become so that- divisive- that cheap comments, demeaning accusations and sick jokes seem to be the norm. How is it that we can so freely put down others and their beliefs? It is one thing to stand for what you stand for and let it be known. Quite another when you use that as a stepping stone to bash, commit slander, cast judgment and generalize entire groups of people.

As Christ followers, are even half of our fights following Christ? Would he bash? Commit slander? Cast judgment? Generalize? I would like to say no.

When did we get so negative….in the name of Jesus?

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Reflections on Judgment

“You lie.”
“Beyonce’s video is better.”
“We are turning this nation socialist.”
“I want Obama to die.”
“He is a horrible person because he said X.”

I feel that somehow all of these are strangely connected. Based in a society that thrives on pointing out flaws and living on broken systems and never wanting to realize something better. In reality it seems that our plight for individual happiness has made us more upset, judgmental, and unhappy than ever. Our fringe groups bash other systems for having no control over their totalitarian terrorist government regimes then accuse Obama of being Hitler? Do they even know or realize that in these other countries the government bodies are actually the ones doing the raping and pillaging? And I’m not just talking money.

In light of all this it seems highly critical and narcissistic for so many people (Americans really) to be focusing on their own likes/dislikes, i.e. judgments, as the only approach to something. Showing no room for compromise or deliberation points to a God complex of being all knowing, which I can’t say I know of any one person who is even close.

Not only does individual effort have to be made to stop the judgments from coming from our own mouths, but a cry of prayer to our Father for intercession and a global softening of hearts towards others who may be different from ourselves. Sound like a big enough task? It is. But just asking God to change our hearts and looking at everything through the lens of our Father God is a massive start.

The deprivation of our world is only made more apparent by our autocratic need to look out for only ourselves or those like us.

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Iran, superpowers, and why we care

I hope that we can find it in our way to not just notice things but find out more, join in communal prayer, and continue to seek to make real and active differences anywhere we can. I feel torn about what is happening in Iran. As a human I know how it feels when your voice is not heard. But in a battle that does not include “right” and “wrong” it is hard to watch Americans choose a side when most Americans don’t even know what each side stands for. It’s hip to be active and it’s definitely the trend to look like we care, but why? Is it because we uphold democracy as the highest right that any individual government can give? I know that it can be boiled down to a basic human rights issue, but then you have to take the situation out of the microscope and look at acts of violence committed from both sides. The scales are certainly tipping in one direction this week, but as we saw in WWII, people follow leaders regardless of their morals.  It’s disconcerting to see how powerful the media is. Did you know that our parents are now only our biggest influencers from age 1 to 3? And then for almost our entire lives after school the media becomes numero uno.

Many Americans paid little attention to Iran when the Shah was in power, including presidential blatant ignorance of the  treatment he was giving his people. Sure we noticed later, but only when American lives were put at risk. Now we have the internet and an ever-increasing global market to pique our interests and keep us more tuned in to the world. But is it doing us any good? Are we keeping ourselves placated, feeling good about ourselves about making some noise, or are we really trying to change the world? I am not saying to stop our offered support to the Iranian people, but I am saying to know that you are supporting the people, all the people, for a better life, for the best possible outcome, not a political party or a side. Voices need to be heard, but in some instances the superpowers and the regimes of this world have made it an issue that can’t be forced on a timetable.

I feel the same question paralleled in my view of the church. Are we really trying to understand Jesus better and love everyone unconditionally, or we just taking the steps to make ourselves feel like we are doing something. Because overall, Americans still don’t really know much about Iran. And overall, the people of Christ that call themselves the church haven’t changed their face that much.

This may seem like a cynical approach but I am really not trying to be. I am including myself in this. And it is about taking an honest look in the mirror and checking our hearts and our motivation before we do and say anything. Because if our hearts aren’t in it, it is time to get with God. Because when they are and we are acting on His say so, not just to make some noise, that is when the real differences and changes will start coming.

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I admit it…

I’m wrong.

I have been wrong about a lot, right about some.

But this weekend I realized that my slant on life has been just that, a slant, bent in some way, not pure.

The world’s patterns have gotten to me and I have been defensive and callous and uninclusive (if that’s a word) when it comes to others. I have heard it written about and talked about many times, but this weekend I finally got it. I am giving up my American politics for my call to be a disciple of Christ.

Will I still get a little antsy when people make unnecessary judgments about our political leaders? Yes.

But it goes both ways in Matthew when it says “Judge not lest you be judged.”

I should not judge them for their opinions or judgments, whatever they may be. I should be concerned with my call to live out my life like Jesus, no matter what the cost. Does this mean being silent about some issues that are specially American? It probably does. Quiet is not my strong suit when coupled with passion. But like I said, my slant has been all wrong. Maybe now there will be more room for love, more room for those acts that the church (me) should have been doing all along, rather than crying to my government to do it. Because just like they do not own me, my allegiance is not to them. I have a choice.

I choose to live without the divisiveness.

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Obama, Abortion, and Mexico City

To me, abortion is a sad choice in many ways. Choosing whether or not to give a baby life when you do not think you are able to give him or her the life they deserve could never be a desirable experience. That being said, I choose to not sit on the pro-life or pro-choice side. I can honestly say that in my life abortion would not be an option. But I know that the banning of abortion would cause an uprising in home abortions and deaths or injuries of mothers who would try to get under the table abortions from unqualified people passing themselves as doctors. I definitely do not want to see that. I would like to see easier adoption options and more counseling and support for mothers who are faced with an unwanted pregnancy. Abortion should not be a substitute for birth control. However, like a local pastor who I recently saw on a Christian interview program, I do not think that not having abortions could be a solvent to our economic crisis. The thought is insane. In any case it would burden a system that needs more requirements and fights harder for justice to see its dependents turned around. Affordable childcare, better transportation systems, job placement, etc. There are ways to have a welfare system that does help care for our brothers and sisters and not enslave people to its pattern.

That being said, the one issue I have never been able to fully agree with President Obama on is his abortion stance. I simply cannot think of a world either way. My unrest leaves me unable to take a definitive stance. But, when I heard the Mexico City decision I was thoroughly confused. First of all, Mexico City’s population needs our help in more ways than one. Its overpopulation makes it a dangerous place to live not only for its crime but for its massive air pollution. Second of all, I did not understand why Obama would want to take a stand on international abortion. However, this article at Blogging Faith helped my understanding. Whether you agree with me, Obama, or choose a conservative stance I hope that you might find this article helpful as well. Our media rarely does a thorough job of relating multi-tiered news stories. Here it is.

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It's a New Day

I don’t particuarly love Avalon, not that they are not talented, it is just not exactly my kind of music. All morning I have had this song in my head though

It’s a new day
Oh, it’s a new time
And there’s a new way
I’m gonna live my life
All the old has, passed away
And the new has come
Thank God, It’s a brand new day

I feel that somehow, although I did not even ask for it, God is replenishing me. 2008 was a year of extreme highs and lows (I got married, my parents got divorced, my grandfather died, I went on an actual vacation- my first in years!).

I was thinking about the new ways I see being thought in church, and the slow push towards the middle in political arenas. Okay, so we are not anywhere close to perfect, and we will probably continue a push and pull over some issues for years. I mean, can you ever believe that Christians thought it right to separate races from one another? Some of our debates are ludicrous, and should be lost. Others might only become more heated. But, needless to say, I am excited for the opportunity I see in several arenas to think and feel in accordance with our call in scriptures. And no, we don’t all agree. But I love what Blogging Faith said yesterday,

…conflict isn’t an end in itself, and we shouldn’t be reflexively distrustful of common ground.

You see, we have it. We just have to find it. I think compromising ones ideals is different than compromising morals. There is more than one perspective around. Everyday is a new day right?

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Please read and take a little time for: Trafficking Victims Protection

Please go to Equality Now to read about the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. This might seem like it is FAR from your front door, but if you live close to or in Atlanta like me, you live in the #1 city in the United States for human trafficking. Blame it on the airport, blame it on pimps, but it is here and we have to fight to end it. Maybe you have heard of or heard me talk about Innocence Atlanta, the organization in Atlanta seeking to raise awareness and support the people that are addressing this issue. Neither senators from GA are currently standing up for this issue, so please write and let them know you care. To find your senator go here.

Also, as a personal plea, while we are talking about acts of Congress, please look into the DREAM Act and write your senators about this important bill for illegal MINORS. Those that did not choose to come in this country but would benefit greatly from receiving the chance to go to college without having to pay the international tuition. Most illegal Latinos especially do not go to college because they cannot afford it and do not qualify for financial aide. Not only would this give them that chance, it would give them a reason to excel in high school and a chance if they do excel to achieve legal status in this country. It did not pass last year, but as many know, things can be “brought up” for years and years in Congress. More support and more knowledge about this act could really amp up its chances! Thanks for reading, and remember, to find your senators and their email addresses, go here.  Also, tell people, raise awareness, volunteer! For any resources just leave a comment or google it! You are sure to find something!

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Forum at Saddleback

I am SURE many American bloggers will be posting their comments/twitters in relation to this discussion between Pastor Rick Warren and the presidential candidates Obama and McCain. So, all I am going to say is Amen to the fact that “To whom much is given much is required” is working its way into America’s political conscience. I believe that the church, as the body of Christ, is here first and foremost to live this out by giving much since we know and have accepted God’s wonderful grace and love. But I cannot discount the fact that I am a United States citizen, a woman in fact, who has rights and the ability to do many things that others around the world cannot. It is not a great burden, but a great honor, that we as people are able to give to others- in this country, and around the world. Again, I have a certain idealism that might seem out of the realm of possibility. But I believe in a God who can move mountains, and if I have just the faith of a mustard seed (as my best friend Jennifer recently reminded me) then I too am able to do things through his power. So, let’s keep on working the plight of others into our speeches, and keep awareness going. And as Christ followers,  let us keep on showing the kindness of Christ, reaching out in love whenever possible and even when it feels like it’s not possible, because through Him all things are.

Peace- Andrea

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Trying to tie my head around my thoughts, or something like that

I feel like I have writers’ block. I have been reading Jim Wallis’s Soul of Politics, also some reading of Al Jazeera and the Bible (not too odd of a pairing), has left the air in my head hollow and the prayer of a new day a faint hope at the end of a long road. Here are some of the angles I am looking at life:

  • Parents’ divorce and family’s lack of cohesion apparent in not only my parents’ life (again this is my angle) but glaringly apparent in the lives of my younger sisters, who need more prayers than my prayer life can muster
  • Weddings, nuptials, that whole white day thing means money and planning, not my strong suit, but hey, we are rich in love and I do know that all will turn out well there. It’s just…. where do I start?
  •  Bush talking about “progress in Iraq.” hehehehehe. Ok, that one was a joke. Right?!?!?! Wait a minute I peed my pants.
  • And the one I feel worst about, the whole “worry about nothing pray about everything” (I am not even going to google this to tell you where it is from in the Bible bc I just know it is NT Paul writing…I think)
  • Oh, and hey, I love theology but I hate it, because one thing I REALLY have to work on is the icky feeling I get when I look around online and find “super spiritual blog” BS that even I cannot begin to understand. And I’ve been a Christian my whole life.

AHHH!!!! Ok, rant done. But do you ever really wonder, why?

Oh, and furthermore, why NCLB ? (No Child Left Behind) It’s not helping people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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