Archive | August, 2013

Striking at Syria!

31 Aug

I think my new favorite question is:  Just what would you like me/us to do?

There are many sad situations in this world.  Our hearts grieve as we see them.  

But there is a diabolical heresy out there that, just because you are the person/nation with the most resources in a situation, you owe everyone your help.

Sometimes people even think you should go beyond offering help and force help on people.  

This is all the result of us not learning proper boundaries.  Sometimes, in a fallen world, choices backfire.  But we have become a world of professional rescuers, often rushing in unbidden to save people from themselves when they have not solicited our help.  

Syria is one such example.  Yes, the rebels have asked for our help several times along the way but . . . 

Syria is a sovereign nation.  If we throw our lot in with the rebels, we are deciding for regime change in a sovereign nation.  Do we really want to do that?

I am old enough to remember a few times that didn’t work out particularly well.  We sided with the Shah of Iran, we sided with Battista in Cuba, we sided with the Contras in Nicaragua, we sided with Mubarak in Egypt . . .

Any regime can turn murderous.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely, remember?  It doesn’t matter if it is Islamist power, fundamental Christian power, power among secularists, or power in a police state.  Give people unlimited power over other people and see what eventually happens.  

We are naive when we believe that forcing an imbalance of power in a country can solve anything long term.  And when things explode, the U.S. gets blamed. 

So . . . should we go in unilaterally and bomb Syria because they deployed chemical weapons against their own populace?  Should we do it without even consulting our own Congress under the war powers acts?

Heavens no.

Just because we have weapons that could inflict extensive damage on Syria from a good standoff distance does not mean it is wise to do it.  

How did this become the U.S.’s issue?  It is an outrage that chemical weapons have been deployed in Syria.  But it is an outrage for the U.N.  

If we take this on, unilaterally, we neuter the U.N.  Let them do their job.

To will make an analogy to a family situation I observed last night.  Someone publicly upbraided a pastor for not disciplining a man for unfaithfulness to his wife . . . after the family had dropped their church membership in this pastor’s church.  


Where would this pastor get his authority to do anything in a home that did not choose to be affiliated with his church?  

Yet, such is our boundarylessness in the modern era that a daughter of this family was publicly slandering the pastor on Facebook for not forcing her father to stop his evil actions.  

Again, I ask my question:  Just what would you like him/us/me to do?

It is heartbreaking to be a familymember when unfaithfulness in a marriage rears its ugly head.  But the only people empowered to help are people the family has accepted into its circle.  Their former pastor doesn’t qualify. 

Let’s find the appropriate people/nations/entities to involve in our difficulties.  

There are many sad situations in this world requiring assistance.  But we need to find someone who is actually involved in the situation before demanding that actions be taken.

Go, U.N.!  

Striking at McDonald’s

31 Aug


My husband and I went to our favorite breakfast place, the Broken Egg Bistro in Chesapeake, Virginia, after our Weight Watchers weigh-in today.

As we thought about our lifestyle as Americans in 2013, we remarked on the fact that our breakfasts at Broken Egg, $7.99 for my French toast, hash browns, and bacon, and $8.99 for his skillet, were about the same price as we would pay at McDonalds, except at McD’s you pick up your own food at the counter and don’t leave a tip!!!

Obviously our breakfasts tasted much better at this most popular mom-and-pop’s breakfast spot in Hampton Roads than they would have at McD’s, with its prepared, prepackaged everything.

So where is the incentive to go to McD’s? The food is no faster there. We were in and out of Broken Egg in half an hour.

Why go to McD’s? To avoid paying a tip?

I think that the strikes of fast food workers in New York City this week taught us a valuable lesson. In order to keep the prices where they are at McD’s (and not raise them higher than mom-and-pop places serving fresh food), they have to pay minimum wage. Meaning less than $10 an hour, which is less than $400 for fulltime work.

No one can live on that, but no one was meant to live on that. It was meant to be entry level work.

If McD’s decides to accommodate the strikers, their options appear to be to either raise wages to $15 an hour, in which case their prices will rise much, much higher, or they could convert to traditional restaurants with waiters and waitresses who work for a lower wage plus tips.

No one is pointing out that that could be the unintended outcome of these strikes. They may bring an end to the fast food industry as we have known it since the 1950’s (McD’s is nearly as old as I am).

But the world is full of unintended consequences these days. As businesses are required to provide health care for fulltime employees, many are cutting everyone back to part time status, too.

It is quickly becoming a world where a person can work 25 hours a week at Burger King, go across the street and work 25 hours a week at McD’s, and still not earn a living . . .

God help us! We surely do need jobs on which young families can live, but I am not sure that just demanding them is going to solve any more problems than it creates . . .

For Monk-ophiles: Check out Foyle’s War

30 Aug

I, a longtime Monk-ophile, have found another totally addictive detective show to follow on Netflix.  It is Foyle’s War, a BBC detective show set on the South Coast of England during World War II, before the U.S. entered the war.  Mmmmmmm, exquisite stuff.

I just found out Foyle’s War has been on PBS.  And it is coming back in early September at 9:00 on Sunday nights for about four weeks.  

The way the series has been made, since about 2002, is to film 2-4 1.5 hour segments in Britain.  They are sometimes divided when shown in the States.

Kind of like movies, with a constant ensemble of characters.

Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle is an older man who conveys his thoughts with quiet mannerisms, usually a quick blink or a raised eyebrow when he figures out a case. He is very like Monk in his attention to detail and in his brilliance in putting together the story line of a murder. 

His crime-solving ensemble includes Milner, a former soldier who was retired from active duty after nearly being crippled in the action in Norway, and Samantha Stewart (Sam), the “police driver” who more often than not becomes part of the action!

Additionally, Mr. Foyle’s son, Andrew, is an RAF pilot who shows up in about one-third of the episodes.  He has an on-again, off-again relationship with Sam.

As with the ensemble in Monk, the cast is very strong together.  Every viewer probably has a favorite in the cast.  Mine is Foyle himself.

I love the balance of having 3-4 characters work as a team to move the narrative ahead. The detective shows that are one-man or one-woman teams (think Columbo or Murder, She Wrote) take so much out of their lead, who has to be “on” for a straight hour every week.   

I love the clothes and period details in Foyle’s War.  It is definitely worthwhile to make it a period drama, particularly about a period with which we are all somewhat familiar.

Great show.  Try it! 


Why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is my Hero

28 Aug

This video still makes me cry 50 years later. Makes me cry with its poignancy. Makes me cry with its promise. Makes me cry with its evocative qualities.

I am listening to it right now. “I Have a Dream . . .”

Today is the 50 year anniversary of that speech. And we still have so far to go in racial reconciliation. In basic respect and human dignity.

“Now is the time . . .”

Dr. Martin Luther King was introduced on that day as “the moral leader of our nation.” I believe that was true. I was raised to deny that, but I have come to believe it was true.
If not, who was? John F. Kennedy? Lyndon B. Johnson? Richard M. Nixon?

I am aware that Dr. King most certainly had extramarital affairs. My relatives brought that up as I was growing up as their objection to making him a hero. I say that that was a double standard.

JFK had extramarital affairs, too. Only the press turned a blind eye to his affairs as the FBI followed Dr. King around, believing him to be a possible danger to our country.

Ironically, one of JFK’s affairs has subsequently been tied to someone in the mob (not saying that he had mob ties, but just that he shared a woman with a mob boss, not cool!). Yet the FBI pursued Dr. King and ignored JFK. A total double standard.

And in all that, Dr. King continued his work for racial equality. He didn’t stop to face down the FBI, he didn’t address the rumors about his personal life, he didn’t argue that what was being done to him was a double standard. He could have done that, but he did not.

He had more important work to do, and only 39 years in which to do it before someone ended his life!

Be careful what you say when you hold up a moral standard for heroes. Only Jesus Christ qualifies for that ultimately!

Certainly not many modern politicians can claim the moral high ground of being one man married to one woman for life. Even my modern hero, Ronald Reagan, divorced and remarried.

And I refuse to get into the debate of whether it is better morally to have a series of “serial marriages” or whether it is better to remain married to one person and have affairs. The Lord defined the standard as one man and one woman for life, so it is obvious that many of our generation have fallen short of his definition.

In fact, I think if we are seeking a heroic marriage in one of our heroic leaders, we might have to go all the way back to Abraham Lincoln and his tender care, for life, of his mentally ill wife. That was a touching story, for his generation and for ours. However, no president of the modern era could ever have a mentally ill wife in the White House, under the constant scrutiny of videographers. So let’s just put Lincoln in a hero class of his own forever.

I will get back to my point, with apologies for the digression. Having been raised in the culture of the 1970’s, it is necessary for me to denounce the things I was taught about Dr. King, the things people said to try to disqualify him as a hero. It is necessary for me to address those things because some members of my generation still believe them and still repeat them. I have come to vehemently disagree with those views and with those people.

Dr. King was a hero. He was willing to be jailed for his beliefs. He personified non-violent resistance. No one could dismiss him. No one could shake him. He changed our world.

Not enough change, yet, but he changed our world in many significant ways. I believe that I owe most of my warm, easy friendships with people of all races in the Navy to Dr. King’s leadership and influence.

So watch the video. Watch the introduction where blacks and whites together, with the men all clad in suits on a sweltering August day, march arm-in-arm into Washington singing “We Shall Overcome Some Day . . .”

Watch the video and weep for our potential.

Back to the Subject of Bullying: Watching my Son Struggle!

27 Aug

It always amazes me how God weaves a theme into our lives for several weeks at a time.  

Little did I know, last week when I wrote a couple of posts about how someone attempted to bully me and I learned to push back, that this would become the theme of several of my conversations this week.

But it has.  As I have repeated the old saying several times “Hurt people hurt people” so I have watched some things be purposely done to hurt people I love.

Yet, I have not the slightest doubt that, if I were to call any of the people who have done these hurtful things to task, I would get to hear a story about how someone first hurt them.  

We so love to justify our bullying of other people (and let us use the correct word for it–it is bullying).  

We live on a fallen planet.  God wants to grow us up into maturity, but not into hardheartedness.  So we need to learn to have compassion on hurting people.  We need to learn to not go for revenge when others lash out at us.  But we also need to learn wisdom so that we can shield the precious people we love from becoming the targets of these people who have been hurt so much that they have turned into bullies themselves . . . 

I think of a time when our sweet, naive son was about ten years old.  

He has always been so trusting, with those wide, steady brown eyes watching us in absolute confidence that we would be wise enough to tell him how to solve his problems.

 I shudder to remember the times I have fallen short, either being impatient with him or just flat out telling him I don’t know the answers.  So many questions, so many inadequacies revealed in me.  

But those wide, steady brown eyes keep watching me with confidence.

And there was that Saturday morning when a neighborhood girl, whose name shall remain unspoken (for I have no intent to embarrass her), got Joey to wake up early.  

He was around age ten and had not often interacted with this young girl.  But she told him she had a present for him.  She told him that on Friday night–said she would meet him at 8 AM on Saturday morning outside our house with the present.

I kind of saw through the story right away.  I didn’t trust it.  But how do you deal with a naive child in such a situation?  If you teach him that he is never to trust anyone, you teach him to harden his heart in advance, before anyone ever has a chance to hurt him.

I decided to give her a chance–that there was at least a possibility that she really did have something for Joey.

He hardly slept that night–he was so excited.  When a person has autism, it is not often that his peers reach out to him, so this was definitely an exciting development.  He didn’t want to oversleep and miss it.

He was standing outside of our house at 8 AM sharp.  And, just as I had suspected, the young girl never came out of her house, never brought up the present in conversation again.  

I had to look in those wide, steady brown eyes and see the disappointment of being let down.

in an ironic sort of way, I was thankful that, since Joey has mostly known kindness in his life, the letdown was a big shock to him.  If he had always been bullied, I guess he would have grown to accept that as normal.   

But nothing stops the pain in our hearts when a loved one trusts someone and gets let down, does it?

May we grow to be truly wise in protecting our loved ones from wanton hurt, while never retaliating against those who have become bullies due to being bullied themselves!  





“I’ve Been Bullied, therefore you have to accept any behavior I choose to exhibit . . .”

25 Aug

Had a great talk with my Sunday school ladies today, so I wanted to make sure I was crystal clear in a point I was making the other day about verbal abuse.  This point applies to any verbal abuse, whether someone is doing it to me, I am doing it to someone else, or two totally different parties (or more) are involved.

Verbal abuse/bullying is never okay.  

You should always remove yourself from any situation where verbal abuse/bullying is present (well, if it is a child too young to be left alone, you are unfortunately going to have to stay and help that child make right choices.  But otherwise . . .).  

Do not let the person make an issue of whether you have done “the right thing” in the situation until now.  The other day when I was being verbally savaged, it came down to whether I could prove I had written an email response to something that was sent to me two weeks before.  I had intended to write the response.  I probably did write it.  But I could not find a copy of that email.

And that whole issue was a red herring.  You see, even if I did forget to send that email, nothing ever justifies the torrent of abuse that person was sending my way.  

Understand?  The verbal abuser will try to tell you that you “deserve it.”  That you have done something wrong and that the verbal abuse is so that you will “get yours” in the situation.  

Wrong!  Refer back to my first two paragraphs, above.

Verbal abuse is never justified in any situation.  Full stop.

The other thing that my verbal abuser tried, once she realized (after about three seconds) that I had not the slightest intention of trying to find that email to justify myself in the situation, was dusting off her history.

It went like this, “Well, I have been abused my whole life so this is the only way I know to relate to people.”  

She immediately regretted that, I think, as I told her that, while I will always be her friend and wish her well in her journey, she has more need of a counselor right now than she has need of me (or anyone) as a friend.  

See how that works?  She was pleading, in essence, that she is too pathological to have a normal friendship.  But she wanted the sympathy vote in which I would let her get away with murder verbally and still call the relationship “friendship.”  

Instead, I suggested that, if she is that broken, she needs to work on the brokenness before she can even hold out hope of having an even relationship with another person that would be labeled “friendship.”  

That is sad.  But that is true.  

And isn’t it kindness to tell someone that, instead of letting her think she can go through life verbally attacking people who are trying to help her, then becoming puzzled when they pull away from her?

Like what did she think was going to happen?

I believe our public schools have led the way by letting people use the victim mentality so much that we now believe we can throw the “victim card” to cover any atrocious behavior we may exhibit.  

Not true.  And the way to stop that is to not accept it when someone tries that tack with us.

It is not only for our best, it is for theirs, too.  

Rage just begets more rage.  Studies have shown that.  We do people no favors by letting them vent all over us.

Regardless of their history.

Help them get straight with their history.  

Don’t let them keep on perpetuating a cycle of bullying!  That would go on forever and only diminishes everything in its path.  

Ya know?


Childhood Exposure to Pornography

24 Aug

Childhood Exposure to Pornography

One of the most important posts ever, as my friend Tara presents the best of the best blog entries and research about our children, even Christian children from protective homes, being exposed to explicit pornography, on the average by the age of nine!!!

We are shown how, in teaching our children to google everything rather than to ask us for information, they are learning to enter words they don’t understand, like “sex,” into a search engine. They are then directed to Google images first of all! An innocent quest for information goes astray and a serious addiction may begin . . .

Tara, who is one of the bravest and most compassionate teachers and counselors I have ever met, shares how her childhood innocence was ripped from her by pornographic images that overlaid virtually every activity she observed in her childhood.

It is happening to more and more children now.

In fact, it happened to our son with high functioning autism when he was about six or seven.

He was in our room, sitting on the floor looking at my laptop, while I put some books away in his room down the hallway. He had certain sites on which I allowed him to play as I worked nearby.

Suddenly I heard him say, “Naked people on the Internet!”

I cleared the hallway in about two leaps and was next to him, trying to back out of a four-panel picture of a couple having sex in every possible configuration. I ended up having to turn the laptop off to get out of the website.

How had my sweet, innocent son gotten there? He had a little Steiff chick/duck that was sent to him at birth by a German friend. It was his most loved, most cherished toy. And he had decided, since he had seen pictures of other Steiff chicks online, that he would surprise me by showing me other chicks like his.

Only in his innocence he thought entering chicks. com would get him to the Steiff chicks.

My heart hurts to even say that.

God help us!

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