Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Note about "Diversity"

One of the primary reasons that Mitt Romney - and, by extension, the Republican Party - lost the 2012 Election is that nearly all the dominant segments, or "People groups", of our modern culture appear to believe that he (and the GOP) does not represent them.  Voters, these days, seem to desire, above all else, that the government LOOK like them, SOUND like them, and VALIDATE their Person-hood (whatever they choose to make that mean).

If you weren't already aware of it, Minority groups throw much of their collective energy behind various "Diversity" campaigns, where "Diversity" usually means merely the PRESENCE of Persons of Color on school boards and Boards of Directors, in Governments (at every level), behind the Tellers desk at the Bank, and in any other place where they see (what they believe to be) a lack of "Diversity"...

But where is the sense in this?  Once the proper Seating arrangements are all made at the table, what then?  Isn't the MEAL, itself, a great deal more important than the Attendees list?  Indeed, if there IS no Meal, isn't the rainbow of Color all around the table a pointless achievement?

If a Black (or Female, or Gay) president ruins the country even as he is celebrated for "looking like" the electorate, is this a good thing?  If the Teller at the Bank often makes errors with my money, does it matter that she's Female?  Where is the value in having a Gay swimmer on the Olympic Swimming Team who rarely wins a meet?  The examples are endless, and the point is clear:  "Diversity" only has meaning if the PURPOSE of the organization, or the movement, or the establishment, or the country, or the business, is fulfilled...  Failure by a "diverse" group of people is still Failure.

Additionally, there have been numerous reports of how White -- and more qualified -- candidates for various things (a promotion at a Fire Department, acceptance into a Law school, and similar stories in recent news) have been spurned in favor of the Black or Female candidate, demonstrating that the quest for "Diversity" can become so spell-binding that it actually produces a new kind of Discrimination...

To all those who clamor for "Diversity", who have some primal Need to "see themselves reflected" in their leadership, I would pose this question:  Just before your beautiful, sweet, beloved Daughter were to be wheeled into a life-saving, critical Surgery, would you stop the hospital staff and insist that the Team of doctors working on her be comprised of a "Diverse" group of folks "just like you"?  I doubt it.  I think you would want, with all your heart and soul, to have the VERY BEST TEAM AVAILABLE for the operation, whether or not they were White or Black, Gay or Straight, Male or Female, Alien or Human.

"I just want my dear Daughter to be HEALTHY and HAPPY", you would say.


The same goes for all of these other concerns.  If Success can be achieved and still include the "Diversity" element, so much the better.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Not Feeling the Love?

     ...Love is not love
     Which alters when it alteration finds
     Or bends with the remover to remove:
     O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
     That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
     It is the star to every wandering bark,
     Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
     Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
     Within his bending sickle's compass come:
     Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
     But bears it out even to the edge of doom. 
           -- Shakespeare, Sonnet 116

Someone told me recently, in a conversation we were having about Marriage -- and about Love, in general -- that "when the passion is gone, that's it, it's time to move on."

I was stunned by this comment, coming from an older person whose opinions and thoughts I respect very much; and yet at the same time, the comment struck me as profoundly symptomatic of one of the fundamental problems in our culture, the idea that my own personal "Happiness" comes before everything else, including Virtue, even including the "Happiness" of other people, even (and sometimes especially) my spouse!

In contrast to this idea, the wisest among us recognize that not only is Virtue far more valuable than "Happiness" (HERE is an outstanding Lecture on that very topic), but also that True Love does not come and go depending on the shifting winds of "Happiness" nor on the wild fluctuations of our "Passions".

Specifically, the constancy, the permanency, and the strength of True Love find perhaps their deepest grounding in MARRIAGE.  Consider what a man and a woman commit themselves to when they say their Wedding Vows (and here I will paraphrase a fairly standard script):

    I promise to ACT in a certain way toward you...
    ("To Have", "To Hold", "To Love", "To Cherish")

    Through and despite any and all Circumstances of Life...
    ("Rich or Poor", "Health or Sickness", "Better or Worse")

    For my entire Life, starting this very day until I die...
    ("From this Day forward" "Until Death parts us")

"I promise you EVERYTHING, through ANYTHING, until I (or you) DIE."  Witnessed by a crowd, hallowed by the presence of a minister, and of the Bible (and of God, presumably), and sealed with a kiss, a ring, and a Contract.


But notice something very important:  We never promise to go on FEELING the way we did on our Wedding Day!

In fact, the Vows themselves clearly allude to the reality that there will be many days where we do NOT "feel" the way we did on that day, and that there will be Circumstances throughout all of LIFE that will tempt us to think that the Marriage was "a big mistake"; we will realize, on MANY occasions, that we are not "Happy" anymore, that the "passion" has gone, and it is precisely at those moments that the Vows we took to one another become necessary...

"FEELINGS" come and go; "passions" rise and fall, wax and wane, and absolutely nobody can reasonably and practically promise to FEEL, decades from now, what he is feeling on any given day, including the Wedding Day.

For an excellent treatment of the idea of "Feelings" in Marriage, from the perspective of the Christian World View, read this chapter from "Mere Christianity" entitled, Christian Marriage.

      ...I am convinced that neither death nor life,
      neither angels nor demons, neither the present
      nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth,
      nor anything else in all creation,
      will be able to separate us from the love of God...
      --Romans 8:38, 39

Monday, June 04, 2012

The Heart and Soul of the Gospel

Sometimes a writer, or speaker -- or someone who is both -- gets it SO RIGHT that no additional words are necessary.  If you want to understand the very Heart and Soul of the Christian Gospel, take some time today to watch this video and to contemplate what's being said:

Sunday, May 06, 2012

The Eternal Perspective of the Christian

There is a show on CBS called "Undercover Boss" in which the "boss" (often the CEO) of a company leaves the comfortable surroundings of his position and poses as "just another worker" in his company; the goal is to learn more specifically what life on the job is like for his workers... To appreciate their struggles, understand their work habits, gain knowledge with which to improve the company, and even to reward those he (or she) finds is serving the company well...

But it's only temporary: After cleaning port-a-johns, or plucking trash out of a conveyor line, or dealing with irate customers, or working long hours -- after enduring the rigors of his "typical" employees -- the CEO gets to clean up and go back to his corporate office, his golf game, and his sprawling house in the suburbs. The whole experience for him -- while insightful -- is nothing like the normal, comfortable, affluent life he can return to when the episode has been filmed. He can view the entire week with a certain detachment, knowing that this is not his true Reality -- not his normal Perspective -- and that soon he will return to a better life.

You can check out some of the episodes here...

It occurred to me today that the Christian is in a very similar position: Having had SONSHIP bestowed upon us by our adoption into the family of God, and because of God's great LOVE for us as expressed through the death and resurrection of Christ, Christians can live in the here-and-now with a stunning, new Eternal Perspective: We are destined for an eternity of Love and Joy and Gladness, a never-ending, wonderful Life of being completely, perfectly SATURATED with the Truth and Beauty and Goodness that are the very Nature of God Himself.

Christians should spend an enormous amount of time pondering what's ahead for us, because the more we can grasp it, the more we can wrap our minds around it, the more it changes our Perspective on the here-and-now: Everything that happens here on Earth -- whether it is death, or sickness, or misery of all sorts, as well as the good things in our lives -- is strictly temporary, and soon enough, this present world will vanish from sight and we will be taken away to be with God forever, celebrating as a family in a World we can hardly imagine.

Even now, we can begin to see "clues" or "hints" about that World if we're looking for them, and if we're asking God to show them to us. Indeed, God wants to change our hearts (" being transformed...") so that we can see and understand more and more of His Glory even now... But isn't it good to ponder the reality that this will all soon be over, and that we will then enjoy Life, REAL Life, with God, and that it will never end... ?

To the extent that we can practice viewing everything from this Eternal Perspective, we will be increasingly able to see, and understand, and be encouraged by the LOVE that calls us "sons".

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Public Displays of Religion

With all the hullabaloo recently over Tim Tebow and his very public prayers--
complete with his famous one-knee pose and augmented by his faith statements
virtually every time a microphone appears -- the topic of "Public Faith" has
gained renewed steam both in the media and in everyday conversation...

From bus and cab drivers who argue for the "right" to snarl traffic 3 times a day
to get out and kneel in the street to pray, to the name "Jesus" being banned from
City board meetings, to these "new Atheists" who are suing to remove all vestiges
of "faith" from public life... Seems like everyone has an axe to grind these days
on God, Religion, World Views, and nearly anything else that can be described in
terms of "morals" or "values" or "truth". "Heaven", or "Nirvana", or "Utopia",
it seems, all look drastically different from one person to the next...

Over against all this cacophony, and despite the pervasive Pluralism which typifies
modern life, I find that PUBLIC demonstrations of even the faith that I myself subscribe
to -- indeed, that I deeply believe to be the Absolute Truth -- make me... well...

My Skepticism (left over from my atheist years, and still a fundamental part of
how I pursue Truth) already causes me to quietly avoid much of what I see in
modern Christian faith and practice; but beyond that, even as a practicing Christian
myself, public prayers, public (unsolicited) declarations of faith in Jesus, being
confronted by (or watching someone else be confronted by) some "soul-winner"...
These things cause me to experience an odd sense of discomfort, embarrassment,
even uneasiness. It's not because I am "ashamed of the Gospel of Christ", as some
fundamentalist might bark at me; it's just that...

Well, picture this: You walk into a Starbucks and off in the corner are two
teenagers (a guy and a girl!) who are seriously "making out", as if they are
completely alone; they are, unfortunately, completely oblivious to the discomfort
they are causing in everyone else around them, completely absorbed in their selfish
behavior and seemingly unaware of the unspoken, shared sentiment hanging in the air:
"Get a room!"

So it is -- for me -- with regard to public displays of religion: It's one thing
to IDENTIFY oneself with a particular religion (say, a Jewish co-worker wearing a
Yarmulke, or a Muslim neighbor wearing a Hijab, or a Catholic friend displaying
a figurine of the Blessed Virgin on his dashboard); but to create what is essentially
a "worship moment" in a public place -- to publicly PRACTICE a religion -- is, to me,
a different thing, a mis-placed private thing, something that ought to be subordinated to the tastes and comforts of those in the immediate vicinity...
It's hardly "Christian" to completely disregard the feelings and sensibilities and
comforts of those around us so that we can perform some Christian act, eh?
Who are we fooling, here?

Would you pick your nose in public? Scratch yourself, pass gas, tug at your
underwear, or belch loudly, in a public place? Would you break out in song at
a funeral, or play Sousa marches at a wake? Why not? Well, because you want to
be the sort of considerate, humble, kind, thoughtful, and polite person who keeps
the thoughts and feelings and sensibilities of the people around you always at the
forefront of your mind; in a word, you don't want to be RUDE.

It is interesting to note that far more often than not, Jesus Himself prayed in
solitude, away from the crowds (and, today, we could add, cameras and microphones
and cell phones); the kneel-down, public prayer spectacle of Tebow -- sandwiched
between Dorritos commercials and "December to Remember" ads -- only serves to
expand the absolute Media circus we all have to put up with these days, which now,
unfortunately, includes "amazing!", "unbelievable!", YouTube-worthy attractions featuring
"all that religious stuff"...