Racism the New McCarthyism of the 21st Century?

It used to be, back in the 1950’s, that all it took to ruin someone’s career was to accuse them of being a communist.  In a world where the Cold War was on the hearts and minds of the American people, a senator from WI would go after anyone and everyone thought to be a communist, even if there was no evidence for it.  In fact, the simple accusation was enough to cause people to distance themselves from the accused, attempting to show their patriotism to America, and keep themselves off the “Red List”.  The accusation of being a communist ruined careers, lives, and families of the accused.

Sound familiar?  It seems that the threat of racism, without evidence, is doing the same thing that McCarthyism succeeded in doing almost sixty years ago.  A man who found himself in a bad situation that might have been avoided found it necessary to defend himself.  He was marked racist because of who he was in the altercation with, a black teenager.  Though a minority himself, he was still labeled a “white who identified himself as Hispanic racist” who profiled the black teen.  Though it has been found that the man was not racist through the testimony of friends, family, and people who have been on the receiving end of his charity, it hasn’t stopped popular and mainstream media from labeling him a racist.

A rodeo clown, whose job is to entertain must like the late night talk show hosts and comedians who make political jokes regularly, dons a mask depicting the latest president, and is labeled a racist and banned for life from the career that has supported himself and his family for a long time.  Perhaps it was in bad taste, but so was Pearl Jam’s treatment of a George Bush mask not that long ago.  Bad taste does not make a racist.  Criticizing the president of the United States does not make a racist.

A reality tv show personality lost her job over a statement that she made twenty years ago and has now also been labeled a racist.  One who has now lost her career and most prospects of ever getting it back.  Is it worth it?  Is destroying people because they might be racist worth it?  What type of message does it really send to the rest of the country, the rest of the world?  Does hate extinguish hate?

This is a breeding ground for true racism.  This is the breeding ground for people to truly hate each other and be suspicious of what others will do to them because of the color of their skin.  It’s time to stop.  Stop trying to find racism where it is not.  Stop seeing injustice of race where true miscommunications occur.  Start forgiving.  Start showing care for everyone not by showing how much of a racist everyone else is, but by treating each person like an individual.  Stop seeing the race of other people and start seeing the people for who they are and what they stand for.  Their actions, more than the color of their skin, will tell what type of person they are.  And if they show that they are insensitive and, yes, even perhaps racist, don’t blame their entire race for the actions of one person.  Put blame where blame is due, on the individual whose actions deserve the blame.

Wake up, America!  It’s time to move on from childish games.  There’s real grown up world stuff going on that is far more important that falsely accusing those who we don’t agree with as racist.  It’s time we stood up for each other and the rights of the individual to say and do things that are insensitive and conversely of whom we agree with because those rights are being stripped away, and the seat of the most freedom in the world is crumbling from within as our rights are being stripped away.  It’s time to respect freedom over the control of others and get back to what the Founding Father’s wanted for our country, the freedom to live as we choose.

What’s the Big Deal about Privacy?

Who cares if the government is watching me, right?  I mean, I am a law-abiding citizen who has nothing to hide!  Plus, if I have nothing to hide, it shouldn’t matter what they see or hear, as I have nothing to be ashamed of!  That’s a great sentiment, except it really doesn’t work.  I am a typical American.  I have my beliefs, my job, my family, the things that are important to me, and the things I could care less about.  But, I know that what I believe doesn’t mesh with the current government and it’s beliefs, the things that it cares about, and the things that it could care less about.  I think homosexuality is wrong but the government is trying to legalize gay marriage.  I think that federal assistance should be eliminated or at least severely restricted so that people are not making their living off of government hand outs that ultimately come from me and others like me who work very hard for their income.  The government has been expanding that role.  I think abortion should be illegal as it is murder.  There are politicians who would fight tooth and nail to keep it legal to kill another human being.  The fact of the matter is, I believe I have nothing to hide because I have done nothing wrong, but I am sure my government would disagree with that statement.  I would be (and probably am) labeled a bigot, racist, homophobic, narrow-minded Bible thumper.  One who should be stopped, silenced, or “reformed” to keep me from “spreading the hate”.

But let’s think about that for a moment.  My government is going to try to fundamentally change who I am because I do not agree with them.  Isn’t that what the Founding Fathers worked so hard to get away from to found a country that is based upon freedom, even those whom with we do not agree?    If the government is in the business of ruling us what we should and should not think and do beyond the natural law of man, what we consider “right and wrong” can be easily redefined.  Maybe it’s not the state approved religion (or that your religion doesn’t participate and/ or allow gay marriage).  Maybe it’s that abortion is considered a normal medical procedure and you consider it murder.  Regardless, through legislation, punishment, and government sponsored intimidation of those who don’t follow the company line, the morality of those governing us will be imposed on us, voluntarily or involuntarily.  This means that the first step is to scope out those who are the opposition, find their weakness, and then ultimately exploit it.

That’s why government surveillance and breaches of privacy are important.  And keep in mind, just because they do not go after you now doesn’t mean they won’t.  Just by that time, anyone who can stand up for you and fight for you will be gone.  It’s time to take a stand now.  Stand up for those of whom you disagree, because it is their right to speak their mind.  You don’t have to support what they stand for to support their right to stand for it.

Keeping Perspective…

I have a horrid anxiety disorder.  It’s awful, really.  I have had it since I was young and frankly, it’s one of those things about me that I wish I could get rid of for good.  It makes me more sensitive to things at times.  Other times it makes me overreact when I should really reel it in.  But, all in all, the worst part about my disorder is it makes me into my own idol.  It makes me into my own god.  It makes me doubt the goodness of God Almighty and basks in the fear and the control I can make myself.  It’s a horrid cycle, too, because the more I worry, the more I grasp for control, the more I grasp for control that is out of reach, the more I worry.  It affects me in all aspects of my life- my marriage, my work, my friends, and my faith.  It’s embarrassing, it’s bothersome, and it affects me in the most personal and profound ways.

But even in this my baptism hasn’t dried up.  Though my panic may make me feel as if God has abandoned me, it isn’t true.  My relationship with God has nothing to do with my feelings.  It has nothing to do with if I am afraid of my own shadow or if I think I have it all under control.  God still has me in His hands, forgiven and beloved that has nothing to do with my own merit or worthiness.  That’s the great thing about God’s love.  It’s not dependent on my “accepting it”.  It’s not about whether or not I have done anything.  It’s objective.  Focused on God, not on my feeble sinful self, I can be reassured that although I am a sinner, and actively sinning against God when I have an anxiety attack, I am forgiven, not because of who I am, but because of Who Christ is, and what He did for me on the cross at Calvary.

It’s not the “cure” for my anxiety disorder in that I will be rid of it, but it’s THE cure, the eternal cure.  The cure that Christ won for me on the cross, the cure that knows that though I carry this burden now, I am now and will be complete without this disorder.  Odd to think about but makes perfect sense in view of eternity.

Aw, Heck, no!

The best thing you can do if you want to see what someone can accomplish, is to make them angry.  The joke is, if you ever hear a country girl say, “Aw, he!!, no!”, you’re in big trouble.  Well, someone pulled out the stop for me.  Actually, its been brewing for a while, it’s just this someone put it in words, and well, this rant is for them.

In the LCMS, CRM status is a black mark on a pastor’s career.  Kiss that career goodbye, because if you congregation decides that they can’t afford you, you’re not a good fit for them, if you decided to be Confessional instead of church-growth, or if they decide to harass you and your family until they leave, and you are forced out, it’s all your fault, your not a good pastor, and your done.  That’s how it’s seen with many, too many, pastors who are good and faithful servants of God’s Word.

My husband was forced out of a call.  He was on CRM.  Now he’s part time.  Did he make mistakes?  Sure, everyone does.  Everyone is a sinner.  Everyone has a point where they don’t handle a situation well.  Everyone has a place where they are vulnerable to make a mess.  But should that be a career ender?  Let’s put this into perspective.  A person who is struggling in a job can actively look for another job.  They can put their resume out there.  They can interview and hope to get a better match for them in the same career in the secular world.  Especially in a world where company loyalty is at an all time low and people are always out looking for the better fit instead of working through the issue presented, the reason for looking for a new job might be the location, the co-workers, the boss, the work assigned, the clients or customers doing business with the company, and the like.  Who, in the secular world, could cast the first stone and state that they have never gotten so frustrated with their job that they have actively hunted for or gotten a new job when they felt they couldn’t take anymore?  Now, what is it that a pastor can do?  Give their file to a DP, who the pastor hopes will give the information to the calling congregations in each district, and pray for a new location.  This process can take months or even years at times.  That doesn’t work if a congregation is running out of money and telling the pastor to seek employment elsewhere.  That doesn’t work for the pastor who has a minority of his congregation threatening to make life unbearable until he finds a new call.  That doesn’t help the pastor who is all but fired from his call for not scratching itching ears.  So what is a pastor to do?  For his health, for his family, for his own congregation sometimes, he will resign.

So then what?  Because he did the best he could with the sinful situation at hand we will judge him, play Monday morning quarterback, and bar him from serving any congregation ever because he did what he thought best?  We aren’t talking about gross outward sins such as adultery, slothfulness, or other Biblical reasons for a pastor to be removed from his call.  We are talking about sinful situations where the pastor did what was best in a lessor of two evils choice.  We shouldn’t be telling them that their careers are over, lives are shattered.  We should do what we can to both heal and uplift these pastors and put them back out to serve Christ Jesus and the Church He has entrusted his under-shepherds with bringing Word and Sacrament.  It’s time to realize that mercy, forgiveness, and understanding should abound where judgement and condemnation once stood.  Most (I will not say all) on CRM don’t deserve to be there permanently.  They deserve a “second chance” as it were to get back into the system of the clergy roster of the LCMS.

On a side note, help them while they are still in “limbo”.  Buy a t-shirt.  Raise awareness.  Call your DP and admonish him to seek out the CRM pastors in his district and find them calls.  See if you can find out the CRM pastors in your district and call them up and ask them how you can help.

Perspective…

My husband has often lamented that he is no longer a full time pastor.  He hates the fact that he has a clock in, clock out, forty hours a week job at Wal-Mart.  This isn’t to say that Wal-Mart is a horrid place to work, more that he spent so many years prepping to be a pastor, and though he has all the training, all the experience, all the readiness to serve full time, God placed him in a congregation that couldn’t pay him enough to live on and he had to maintain his second job.  But Wal-Mart isn’t where his heart is.  His heart is with the people of his church.  He wants to be there for their hurts, their challenges, their victories, and their lives.  It’s hard for him to wake up and not put a clerical on, but what he calls the “Wal-Martian” suit and head off to a place that holds so much of his time, much more than he would ever prefer.  If he gets a phone call that someone is sick, he has to wait until he has time to go there instead of rushing to be at the side of the infirm.  How frustrating!

Then, I think, God doesn’t make mistakes.  God doesn’t just accidentally “stick” someone in a part time call.  God doesn’t just put someone in a church because there wasn’t another place to put them.  God has a plan, an intricate design, a place for everyone.  It’s hard to think that while my husband was going through his hardships in Kansas that God was prepping him for where he is at now, but He was. The time my husband spent in Minnesota with his congregations there prepared him for what he is doing now.  He may not feel prepared and he may feel like his time is wasted at Wal-Mart, but that’s not how God sees it.  God sees His own beloved child working to better the lives of the neighbors around my husband in at least two vocations he calls jobs.  God provides when we need to do what seems impossible.

There isn’t a more loving congregation out there than the one my husband serves now.  Understanding, patient, loving, they have never caused any rumblings of trouble because my husband can’t be there full time.  They accept him for who he is and where he is and never make any complaints that he isn’t around more.  Much the opposite, they respect it and work around it so that all can be done to God’s glory.  It may be a frustrating situation for all, but Christian love abounds as there is no blame, no resentment, only  understanding and patience on all sides.  Perhaps it could be that God gave my husband a place to heal after what he endured in Kansas?  I’d like to think so.  Even the most frustrating situations can be gifts from God even if we don’t always see it.

This isn’t to say that we don’t work to better ourselves and our situation because it is important to have that drive.  However, it’s good to know that we will be provided for by a loving God who sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins so that we could be in heaven with Him.  He provides eternally and temporally all that we need to support this body and life.  In that perspective, my husband isn’t in some “holding pattern” until he gets back into the full time ministry, he is right where God wants him to be.  That assurance, through faith, makes it so that my husband not only can perform at both jobs, frankly, he rocks it!

Why Everyone Should be Against the HHS Mandate…

When the government agrees with you, it’s easy to allow them to take power over what seems innocent, just, and right.  When they don’t, it’s easy to cry tyranny.  Perhaps a better way to be is to allow the government none of the power to overshadow our lives, be it something that is agreeable or not.  Obviously there should be punishments for blatant, outward sins against another.  If someone is murdered, if someone steals, if someone spreads a horrid rumor in order to harm another, of course there should be ruling authorities to punish and stop wrong doers.  But what if it is something not so obvious?  Birth control itself has many controversy on whether or not it causes abortions.  It’s not just about how some believe life begins at conception either.  Does birth control prevent ovulation therefore no baby can be aborted due to the thinning of the lining of the uterus?  Some would argue yes, others no.  The point is, it is an ambiguous point.  Therefore, as free American citizens, we should be free to choose for ourselves what this means.  There are devout Christians who use birth control with no problems of the conscience.  There are those, however, who would have a great crisis of conscience if they were to use birth control.  The ultimate choice shouldn’t lie with government enforcement of one side of the debate over the other.  The government should be neutral, not looking to benefit from the majority, but to help protect all from unnecessary and burdensome rules that would keep freedom at bay.

To illustrate, what would happen if the HHS mandate stated that all homosexuals must be reformed to the heterosexual way of living, be actively involved in heterosexual dating or long-term relationships, and that the taxes paid by the homosexuals and everyone else would go to programs reforming homosexuals to make them conform with the majority of society, as this is the right thing to do for all Americans.  There would be an outcry from the Democrats and the liberals alike.  It is not the government’s place to decide what is best for the individual.  Even now with the gay marriage lobby it is heard time and time again that the government should stay out of the bedrooms in America.  But what is the difference between the chants of those who wish to have same-sex marriage, that they should be free to choose who they will spend the rest of their lives with, and those who say that they should be free to choose where their money is being spent and they find it morally objectionable to fund abortions, abortion causing drugs, sterilization, and birth control?

This isn’t just about the government deciding that these drugs and procedures in the HHS mandate are morally correct and right, this is about forcing those who would comply and go against conscience or defy and be penalized by the government losing their freedom to live as they wish.  America is not a democracy, it is a republic, which is designed to protect the individual from the masses.  Perhaps there are those in our government who have forgotten that.  It isn’t about regulating people with overreaching laws but about allowing people to live without having a government regulate and legislate their lives.  For those who agree with it, the HHS mandate is wonderful and forces those stuck up, uptight, religious wackos to pay for things that the rest of “normal” society wants.  Truthfully, however, if the pendulum sings the other way and the people in power forcing the decisions now are replaced by those of another persuasion, what power have they now been given?  Who is to say they won’t ban the HHS mandate and even ban all birth control, sterilizing medications, and abortion?  This isn’t just about “getting one side’s way”, this is about giving the government way too much power over what should be individual’s decisions.  These are not the marks of a free society.  These are the marks headed towards a dictatorship.  Comply or face the penalty wasn’t the battle cry of the Revolutionary War.  It was give me liberty or give me death!

Liberty is not about the majority getting its way.  It is about allowing the individual the freedom to live their lives without overreaching, burdening government control.

Don't Tread on Me

Ever Wonder?

Back a couple of years ago, my husband, sitting in his collar, was complaining to me that his job was worthless, no one appreciated him, and that he was a poor pastor.  After everything we had endured with him being forced to resign and not being called to a new congregation, he was, to say the least, depressed.  We walked into Qdoba to talk it over.  After hearing his many complaints, frustrations, and problems over dinner, we began to clean up our table when a young man walked over.  He wasn’t a member of a church that my husband had filled in for that we could tell.  The young man was just a “joe” on the street, but he came over anyway, shook my husbands hand, and thanked him for all the hard work that he does in the church.  Though it might be hard at times and things may look grim, he appreciated the pastor and his role as the bringer of the Gospel, and he wanted to make sure my husband knew that.

Ever wonder if God really pays attention to the conversations you have every day?  That day, both my husband and I were sure!  It’s easy to forget that God is involved in our every day lives as well as the things we do every day to remember that He is is present, prayer, devotions, going to church, Bible study, and the like.  Talk about feeling self-conscious!  It’s easy to go about live and compartmentalize God to just the activities that involve Him.  But He cares for us enough to not just be involved when we choose to involve Him.  He’s there for the complaints we tell our friends, the laughter of a stupid joke that makes us have tears in our eyes even if it wasn’t that funny, the long conversations that happen in a car on a road trip that might be about cows, deer, and the crazy driver who just passed us.

As if we needed more of a reminder, before working out at the gym this past week, I was explaining to my husband the need to feel loved and wanted at home because I don’t get that type of support anywhere else.  I complained that at work I meant nothing and that I really wasn’t all that important.  After working out, there was a woman who recognized me as “her” pharmacy technician.  I had taken care of her earlier and she was very appreciative of the service and the fact that I didn’t just take care of her, I seemed to truly care about her well-being.  It brought a smile to my face knowing that I had helped at least one person and that is exactly what I thought as we walked to my car.  My husband and I were decided to go to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things, and again, I was met with another patient who wondered when the next time I was working was, as “I was the best tech there” according to her.  We chatted for a bit and and then my husband and I went on our way.  My husband wondered if we could go anywhere where in town where I wouldn’t be recognized as somebody’s pharmacy tech.  I laughed but inwardly mused again that God was walking right beside me even as I walked through the Wal-Mart, worked out at the gym, and went about the rest of my life.  I mentioned this to my husband a little while later and he laughed so hard.  He thought it was funny that God did the same thing to me as He did to him.  Turnabout is fair play.

Now, this isn’t to say that this is how God promises to interact with His creation.  God promises to be found in Word (the Scriptures) and Sacrament (Baptism, Holy Communion).  If one is to look for God, don’t look for God in signs and wonders, or even through a patient appreciating hard work after a complaint session on how insignificant one is.  It is important to note that if one is looking for God, he need look no further than the Christian Church down the street, who brings God to the people every Sunday in the Divine Service, or in the Scriptures that is the Word of God themselves.  But, it’s also not unheard of for God to step outside these means to remind His children that He is there and listening, watching, and taking care of His precious little ones.  Not expecting it from Him, it is important to acknowledge He can work that way.  In a way that built both His precious prince, my husband, and His precious princess, me, He reminded us that we are not alone.  God is with us.