Monday, August 31, 2009
I grew up in a small town that was (and still is) a lot like Ozark. In all of the years that I lived there, there weren't more than a few African-American families that moved into town...and they never stayed for long. We had plenty of families with Mexican backgrounds...but that wasn't the same (or as bad) as being black. All in all, my sixties childhood was spent with white kids, white families in a white town.
I am surprised (and thankful) that I have had to overcome as few prejudices as I have. Hopefully, my kids will have even fewer.
That is a challenge when you consider that our part of the Midwest is pretty much white, middle class America, located in the middle of the Bible belt. Although we are taught to love our fellow man (friends and enemies alike) in the Bible, it is easier to deal with what we don't know by maintaining a defensive posture and expecting the worst from people than by opening our minds and hearts to a different way of thinking, acting or living. The hispanic population here is pretty invisible (by their choice). The Asian population is growing and the African-American population is still considered a suspicious minority.
There is a part of me that has difficulty with the changes that are politically correct--African/American vs. black, Asian vs. oriental, Hispanic or Latino vs. Mexican or other Latino Cultures. But I really need to make those changes because I don't want to unknowingly offend someone. It should be our goal to learn about and understand the cultures that are living around us and not to speak about them out of our ignorance and hatred.
There are certainly cultures that have evolved with (and value) a purity in their race or culture. That is not the case in the United States. We are a country of immigrants. We are a blend of cultures. We have many different religious beliefs. We are a nation with many different backgrounds and origins...including the Native Americans that were here before the rest of us. We are far from a pure race. But we are Americans. I believe that our differences are part of what makes us the greatest nation on Earth. (Yes, I still believe that we are the greatest.) The people of the United States are free to come and go as they please. We travel from state to state, leave the country for vacation and business and have very few restrictions. If we want to move to another country, no one will stop you.
Though we have overcome many of the prejudices that have caused problems in the past, we still cling to others. If you are gay or Muslim (or a Democrat), you can expect to be hated in the Ozarks. Some still cling to racial prejudices (and hatred) that is very unbecoming for those that claim to be upstanding Christian citizens. In many communities, it is still the "good ol' boy" network that rules. I am often surprised by the prejudicial garbage that I still hear coming from otherwise decent people. Perhaps it is a result of living in the vacuum of the Ozarks.
I hope that as my kids grow up and expand their worlds, that they will learn about other cultures and beliefs. I hope that they will make friends and experience foods and traditions from others as well as sharing their own heritage, traditions and beliefs. I think that there is more than enough hatred in the world. It's time for us to share some love...or at least some tolerance.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
They tell me I have to wait a week before I can test again so I'll be off of the boards for another week. Sacre Bleu!
My sick leave balance is pretty low so I'll have to take advantage of my manager's generosity and spend a few days doing administrative stuff. Tomorrow I'll spend my day of sick leave and make the trip to St. Louis with some buddies from church and we'll take in some Cardinal baseball, the obligatory ball park dog, a few White Castles and the after ballgame trip to Ted Drewe's. The problem with only having four tickets is choosing just three friends. I think my pastor's disappointed that he missed the cut...maybe next time.
Anyways, I'm looking forward to a great day.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
For as long as I can remember, the failure rate for marriages has been around 50%. Half of all marriages end in divorce. It doesn't seem to matter if you get married in a church or at the court house. It doesn't seem to matter if you are younger or older. About half of the time marraiges end in divorce.
The reasons vary--money, infidelity, career moves, family problems (in-laws), etc. But the reasons for divorce are often overcome by couples that find a way to stay together. I imagine that if half of marriages end in divorce, there are many more that are void of love but the couples stay married because of kids, religious beliefs, traditions or not wanting to admit failure and suffer the shame they would feel before their families and friends.
So what's the trick? Is there a secret to a successful marriage? How do you know that you want to spend the rest of your life with that one person? Do we still think of marriage as a life long commitment? And if not...well how do you know when it's over? How do you reach the decision that I'm not going to love you anymore? How can somebody knowingly do something that will hurt the person that they've committed to love forever? And how can the offended person choose not to forgive the person that they've loved--faults and all--to this point?
How can one person just walk away and leave another person totally devastated? It would be so cool if I could tell you that putting God at the center of your marriage is the answer. But there are people that don't believe in God that have successful marriages and there are very religious people that can't seem to keep it together.
What is the secret?
In a couple of weeks, Chris and I will hit the 28 year mark. One might wonder why we ever fell in love to begin with. I love baseball, she doesn't like any sports. She's a handwashing neat freak, I'm a slob. She watches Jon and Kate + eight and The Duggers, I watch NCIS and CSI. We are as different as night and day. If I think about it too much, it scares me. In another year Hannah will graduate from high school and we will face the empty nest...another critical (and often final) moment in the life of a marriage.
I know that one might think--twenty-eight years seems like a pretty successful run. But what if we don't make it to thirty-eight? Can you say that we had a successful marriage for 30+ years and then...? Is it really a success if you don't take it all the way?
Sure, I could tell you how the street magician amazed the audience and helped the young man pull off a very memorable proposal...but I would rather tell you how they might beat the odds and enjoy a lifetime of loving one another.
What's your secret?
Wow! I just noticed that this is post #400! Thanks for reading!
Monday, August 24, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
The Fall of Jerusalem
Jesus warned of a time when Herod’s beautiful temple would be destroyed, but the disciples could hardly believe him. The temple was arguably the most magnificent structure in the world, and its glow in the setting sun seemed as eternal as Jerusalem itself.
But a generation later Jewish zealots revolted against Rome. The rebellion began at the fortress of Masada then spread throughout Judea and Galilee. Romans were slaughtered, Jewish defenders battled bravely, and Emperor Nero sent General Vespasian to quell the uprising.
When Nero died, the general left for Rome, placing his son Titus in charge of the 80,000 troops. The siege began in April, 70, immediately after the Passover when Jerusalem was filled with strangers. Within city walls, the Jews splintered into various factions, fighting each other at the very time they needed solidarity. Food supplies ran out and the population began dying from starvation. The high priest’s wife, accustomed to living in luxury, begged for crumbs like a street urchin. Captured Jews were crucified at a rate of 500 a day, crosses encircling the city. Daily temple sacrifices ceased July 17, all hands being needed for defense.
The Romans, using catapults and battering rams, finally broke through the walls. The Jews streamed into the temple. Titus had reportedly wanted to spare the edifice, but his soldiers would not be restrained. A firebrand was hurled through the golden gate and exploded like a bomb. The temple became an ocean of fire. It was August 10, 70, the same day of the year, it was said, in which Solomon’s earlier temple had been destroyed by Babylon.
This, and the subsequent fall of Masada, extinguished Israel as a nation until its rebirth in the twentieth century. Most Christians had fled Jerusalem before its final hour, but the city’s destruction remains a defining event in Christian history. It further severed the young church from its Jewish roots, making it a global entity distinct from Israel and destined to develop its own identity among the Gentiles, bearing a message for all the world.
"Do you see all these great buildings?" replied Jesus. "Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." Mark 1:1-2
Sunday, August 09, 2009
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Friday, August 07, 2009
Taco Bell's New Green Menu Takes No Ingredients From Nature