Reflecting on Ayaan's "Infidel" for a while, made me think about how meaningful criticism, major changes to systems, improvements--usually comes from within the respective communities. Outside critique may have its place, but unless someone comes from within, who may be persecuted quite severely in the end, there will not be effective change.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali comes from within Islam to critique Islam. Her experience includes life in several countries, among several cultures and languages. Her suffering was personal and profound. Another example is provided by Bill Cosby, the comedian. Cosby wrote a book called "Come on, people", critiquing current black "culture", or in his view, lack of culture. Another example comes from the time when the Liberal party in Canada implemented all the Reform party ideas, while the Liberal party was in power. (If the Reform party had implemented all these policies on their rule, there might have been a huge outcry). Another-- St. Paul, the Pharasee par excellence, spearheaded the understanding that the rule of the law over the conscience was over and grace in Christ Jesus had come. Dr. Martin Luther, self-flaggelating monk par excellence and Dr. of the scriptures, was the one to hang out the churches dirty laundry, point out the wrong teaching and the soul killing legalism promoted in unbiblical tradition. In another vein, a significant number of the most ardent Pro-lifer's are women who have had several abortions themselves. We could probably think of many more different examples. Of course, on a different level altogether, the Messiah himself had to come from among the Jews. These "reformers" or "prophets" or "preachers" arise in the crucible of their lives and experiences. We can thank God for them all and pray for them.
In some sense, any leader of any group has the responsibility to help the group see itself in a self-critical light, not a self-righteous light. Of course, this will get him into more trouble than flattery or promoting a "poor me" attitude would.
Perhaps, Barak Obama will be able to do something for the poor among the blacks (African-Americans) by elevating and challenging them in the right way.
In Canada, too, now that the government has apologized for all the wrongs of the past committed against the native population, perhaps there will be some native voices to change the system for greater responsibility of the individual. Already there is a call for divorced native women to be able to obtain a share of the household assets when a split occurs. So far, they have been powerless on reserves and therefore this measure is not without vehement opposition.
Nevertheless, the principle of free speech must also guarantee that outsiders are able to criticize when they want to without being subjected to threats and being hauled before human rights commissions. See Ezra Levant's blog for some samples of unnecessary infringements on free speech in Canada at this moment.
Sometimes, only outside force can stop a horrible evil. Hitler was only defeated by outside forces. He was able to shut every critic up by killing him or threatening to kill him. Every plot against him failed. Innumerable lives where lost in stopping him.
It makes me wonder where we are in our respective communities and where we should speak up. I belong to a conservative Lutheran church. In general, I find that while the insistence on right doctrine is essential, it can be difficult to find people excited about leading and going to Bible studies, or asking questions about the Bible. Sermons are lacking in that they are not really dealing with, digging into a Biblical text. Put a little more Bible back into the church--criticism number one from me, on the inside.
Sometimes, I go to a "contemporary" Lutheran church service. This service wants to be "visitor-friendly", and indeed there are visitors, there. Yet, it is not obvious to me that these visitors are being instructed in the Christian faith enough--criticism number two.
I'll stop here, before I get going full steam. Enough for now.
Martin and I have spent the last few days' spare hours reading "Infidel" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The book is a best-seller and even available at the "Real Canadian Superstore" (grocery store), which shows how widely it is being distributed.
This morning I spent looking up her movie on Youtube. From there I wandered to survey what else is on Youtube on the subject. From there one gets into Richard Dawkins and atheism and videos about how all religions are wrong and bad.
My main thought after all this is, how important it is to let everyone have their say. We don't want suppression of ideas, truths, discussions. Luther always said, he was fighting with the pen, not the sword. That's the right way.
"See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me" Isaiah 49:16 (NIV).
LFL's 2008 Life Sunday theme, In the Hand of God, not only proclaims the value of human life given by God's creating and redeeming hands, it also shares a powerful message of hope for those God has called in Christ and holds in His hands. This hope is more than a nice sounding word associated with some religious or theological teaching. This is a real, practical hope that sustains Christ's people in ordinary, everyday struggles and especially in those out of the ordinary struggles.
Many Christians here in Iowa and the Midwest now face those out of the ordinary struggles because of flooded businesses, homes, and fields. When you don't understand, when you are mentally weary and physically exhausted, there is hope in knowing God's strong and mighty hands hold you.
He holds you in His "palm" the deep, protected, hollow of His hands. And note that you are not just held, God engraved you there! You find hope knowing that nail-scarred hands hold you. A God who knows about suffering holds you. A God who suffered holds you. A God who brings great good out of great suffering holds you. As He shaped and formed you in the womb with His hands, so He shapes and forms you through the sufferings in your life as He holds you in His hands.
We pray the message of being held in God's hands will comfort, strengthen, and give hope to those who must meet the challenges of cleaning up and rebuilding. We pray this devastation will give opportunity to share this message of hope and life with others as we offer our hands and our help.
In the Hand of God is more than a theme. It's a very practical message of hope that makes a difference in people's lives.
Your servant For Life,
PS. from Brigitte: When my mother had cancer, which turned out to be terminal, she loved am image of a sculpture, where a small figure of a person was cradled into a palm. You can see the image above. The artist is Dorothea Steigerwald.
Liberal leader’s wife says re-opening abortion debate could lead to terrorism
Janine Krieber, wife of federal Liberal leader Stephane Dion who is on leave from her job teaching military strategy at the Royal Military College in Kingston, spoke on terrorism at Fleming College in Peterborough, Ontario, this week. In the post-speech question period, Ms. Krieber said, “The problem I see, for the moment, coming next is that we bring back abortion discussions into society. We had problems before and if we bring that back too severely it will bring conflict.” According to the Peterborough Examiner which reported the incident, she referred to the protests in Montreal a couple of weeks ago against Ken Epp’s Bill C-484, the Unborn Victims of Crime Bill. It was unclear from the newspaper account what “problems” she was talking about. Perhaps she was thinking of the increasing militancy of student unions across the country to suppress the free speech rights of pro-life students. She seemed to be suggesting that “abortion discussions” are a dangerous thing. We have had so little public discussion in Canada about abortion that one wonders how anyone would know it would case conflict.
This "visitation" book is a new item available at Concordia Publishing House. It deals with difficult situations head-on using devotions, psalms, hymns, and prayers. It is meant for pastors, caregivers and regular hospital visitors. It nowhere beats around the bush or prettifies problems.
Getting older and sick, or being alone or hospitalized can be very trying times. Just as I listed the comments about my sagging face in the last post, aging and illness can be extremely humbling. You become marginalized, less visible. Maybe soon someone will think you should chose to euthanize, since you are only a burden. What a psychological mill stone!
We must at every opportunity show care and respect to individuals who are getting older or suffering. This can be very challenging, as people become mentally ill and demented with greater frequency with advancing age.
I like the introduction to the resources on aging in the "visitation" book, quoted for you here:
Growing old brings us closer to our death and closer to God. But many who are elderly experience severe depression because of the loss of spouse or loneliness from living alone or the fear of physical suffering or even death itself. The elderly need the compassion of others who, by their presence, embody Christ for them.
After that it suggests Psalms 90, 39, 71, 73, 26; 2 Cor.5: 1-4, Isaiah 46:4; it gives a number of prayers and hymns.
What comfort in the word of God! How would one try to comfort someone without it? One would hope just in medical and beauty treatments--which can only go so far and will completely fail at some point.
I got an extra copy for Kathy who works in geriatrics.
Yesterday, someone stopped me on the road, someone I had not talked to for a while. She wanted to know all about the family. And she said to me: "And you don't look any older!" It was supposed to be a joke. But we both knew that I looked a lot older than last time we spoke and she was not telling me that I looked well preserved.
Not long ago a young person said to me: "Are you sad? You look sad." In fact, I was not sad, I was just driving the car along thinking nothing much. I have to say, I just look like that now, with parts drooping in the face, when I'm not talking or smiling. Or people will say: "You look tired." And I have to say, "I am not tired, I just look this way, now." This is what can happen when you are moving gradually toward 50. (Still some time to go.) But I am grateful.
People will have to get used to the way I look and I will have to get used to them saying things that are not flattering. It is humbling and there will be more of this as we get older yet.
"Do you have to breathe this way!?" is something a growing-up daughter (not mine) said to her mother. -- How annoying can a mother be!
The mother in question, whom I met for the first time on Friday, could never quite forget this phrase, as it epitomized the nonsensical differences mothers and daughters can have when the time comes. She can laugh about it, as her daughter is now 28, independent, and confides in her all the time.
I find it a humiliating/humbling time. All the sudden you can do nothing right, but everything wrong. Actually, it seems everything you have done for them in the past was wrong, too, now in retrospect. Eye-rolling, ridiculing becomes your daily nurturing.
To ask a favour, to express an opinion, to expect something done is over the top. The simplest request becomes a dictatorial edict that cannot be tolerated. Your society is not solicited. -- Your breathing is barely acceptable. We are hopeless causes. We barely have a right to exist and be ourselves. They think we think the same thing about them.
They are busy becoming their own independent persons, trying to be different from us, trying to get out from under us, craving "freedom", finding their own world. They are a locomotive on a track, not to be moved from their own path and agenda by us.
I pray for them every day.
Below is a prayer I copied from Pastor Weedon’s blog. It is quite formal, but it can guide us in praying:
O God, our heavenly Father, You love mankind, and are most merciful and compassionate, have mercy upon all the members of my family/church/ circle of friends/ office (and especially...), for whom I humbly pray You, and commend them to Your gracious protection. Be, O God, their guide and guardian in all their endeavors; lead them in the path of Your truth, and draw them near to You, that they may lead a godly and righteous life in Your love and fear; doing Your will in all matters. Give them grace that they may be temperate, industrious, diligent, devout and charitable. Defend them against the assaults of the enemy, and grant them wisdom and strength to resist all temptation and corruption of this life; and direct them in the way of salvation, for the merits of Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
In correspondence with Uno from Nagoya, in Japan, I learned that a town, Kasugai, just north of Nagoya is twinned with the city of Kelowna, British Columbia. (That's where we are going on holidays this summer.) This picture is from Kasugai and shows a sculpture which is a gift to the town from Kelowna. What an interesting connection.
At some point in our theological lives, we learn that time and space were created. This seemed revolutionary to me the first time I heard it.
Somehow, time and space seem fixed forever, measured easily by clocks and sticks. Yet, Einstein convinced everyone that time is not so manageable. If you fly around the universe at the speed of light, you will end up in different time.
With God, a day is like a thousand years and vice versa.
With me, a couple of hours on the computer are like 10 minutes, and 10 minutes of cleaning seem like a couple of hours. It seems like all the clocks are wrong. Has this happened to you? If I could split myself in two, the computing half would be centuries ahead of the cleaning half.
Mary sent me this one: Valuable information, indeed!
On the first day, God created the dog and said:
'Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years.'
The dog said: 'That's a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I'll give you back the other ten?'
So God agreed.
On the second day, God created the monkey and said:
'Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I'll give you a twenty-year life span.'
The monkey said: 'Monkey tricks for twenty years? That's a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the Dog did?'
And God agreed.
On the third day, God created the cow and said:
'You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer's family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years.'
The cow said: 'That's kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I'll give back the other forty?'
And God agreed again.
On the fourth day, God created man and said:
'Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I'll give you twenty years.'
But man said: 'Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty,the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?'
'Okay,' said God, 'You asked for it.'
So that is why for our first twenty years we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.
Life has now been explained to you.
There is no need to thank me for this valuable information. I'm doing it as a public service.
It has been spectacularly fresh and green out. Yesterday, I managed to walk for 2 hours. Andrea put up a portable electric fence and pastured her horses in the park reserve. I can't describe how beautiful it looked. Ah, if the grass could stay this green longer than it does!
But I am tired of flute and lute music for now, good though it was for walking and edification. I think I need more CD's.
On another blog this video was posted together with the question: Where is the chaplain? It comes from the TV show ER. There is a dying man who needs to deal with his sin, but is talking to a psychologist. It makes a profound statement. It's just 2 min. long. Watch it.
It's been light till 11:00 and I have been extending my evening walks this late without having to spray against mosquitoes, yet.
The pleasure of this has been heightened by finding some music I really enjoy while meandering over hill and dale. (Well, I try to walk pretty hard and include as many hills as I can, seeing this is flat land.)
This is the music: a while ago I gave Martin a gift that I really wanted (aren't those the "nicest" gifts to give :)). It is Concordia's 4 CD set of Luther's hymns, ballads and quotes. The medieval type rustic, sturdy melodies are perfect for pushing your walking and the sound is so pure through the headphones. This has given a whole new perspective on the walking experience and I feel so much better about going by myself.
You can listen to the music and place an order here: