Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Christian Journey

It has been said by some that a Christian without a faith story is only barely on the path. During the Advent season my church has a special Wednesday evening service where the sermon is replaced by a member of the congregation sharing their faith story. Over the years I’ve heard some good ones with perhaps the best not being told by the member, who was absent due to surgery, but by the pastor saying, “She is too humble to share this with you, but her story is worth hearing” as the preface to the story of her life changing experience.

I’d really like to share my faith story with you, but consider it incomplete. I am of faith in Christ but won’t know until invited into Heaven, or not, that I’ve lived a God-pleasing life. For me there are too many unknowns and too much uncertainty even after many readings of Bible verse and discussions with fellow Christians. How big is a mustard seed, anyway?

I know that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. He was the Son of God and was sent to us, given for us, as the new covenant between God and all His people. I totally get that, having it in my rational mind and holding it in my heart. Further, I follow the teachings of Martin Luther and understand that this grace from God is a gift that cannot be earned other than through faith in that new covenant. But than I read Jesus saying in Matthew 7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged,” and the apostle John in Revelation 20 that, “the dead were judged according to what they had done.”

Perhaps I’m just not a solid Lutheran. We are taught that good works are the fruits of faith. We are taught that a faith without good works is a dead faith. We are also taught that the sense of feeling good about having done something clearly good in God’s eyes is to be rejected as it takes from the glory of God, and this has pretty good Biblical backing.

I simply don’t know, for sure, what the truth might be other than my Nicene Creed defined faith and that Jesus called on us to act on God’s behalf, more often than anything, to ease the suffering of the poor. I often turn to Jesus’ saying there are only two commandments left, with all the law held within them. Those two do cover a lot of ground though. Everything, in fact.

Even under the new covenant in Christ, my sense is that God wants us to live exemplary lives. It is under the new covenant, however, that our missing the mark is forgiven. Jesus tells us he came not to change one letter of the law, but we are also taught that through communion with Christ our sins are forgiven and we move forward pure, clean to the new life in Christ. But then we sin again. No wonder they call us hypocrites! I am incredibly thankful for that grace from God, but I would vastly prefer to require less of it and consciously work towards that goal.

So I move forward firm in my faith, accepting it is a journey that fills a life. I hope to grow through prayer, through worship and through showing the agape love of God to my neighbors near and far and to my family all the more. I find comfort that Jesus is my guide and always there when I need him, which is to say every moment of every day.

May His peace be with us all!

(For what it's worth, upon proofing this writing, I am glad to report that today was a really good day and this piece is simply something that has been rolling around in my head for a while.)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Privacy and the Patriot Act

As much as I recognize the naming of this piece of legislation in perfectly framed Republican-speak, and I am against the vast coverage the law allows, I recognize the need for our government to be able to use this sort of surveillance to protect the citizens of the nation. While that is a necessity, the coverage of the law is too vast, and the rights of the citizens to privacy are at risk.

There are evil people in the world, organized in a variety of groups, that mean to do us harm. There is no doubt about that. Our law enforcement officials and the various agencies that serve to protect us need the ability to listen to any conversation, to view any scene, and to question any suspect appropriately as regards, in all three cases, the security of our nation and it’s citizens. Unfortunately, the law allows them to observe in this manner and collect information of all sorts, which could easily become an invasion of privacy not previously afforded those officials.

I have a friend that works in some aspect of Homeland Security. His title is obfuscation for the good work he really does. Frankly, aside from his being an excellent marksman and attached to local law enforcement, I don’t really know what he does. I asked him about the worry of this sort of surveillance coming up with evidence of victimless crimes that would then be prosecuted, and how I felt that sort of information should be overlooked in view of the manner in which it was received, and his quick answer, true I believe, was that such information was discarded, ignored, and let slide.

Our soldiers out of uniform, as I like to call those that protect us covertly within our own borders, are generally good people with good intentions. They have a single purpose job to do – prevent loss of life due to terrorism, and catch terrorists whenever possible. With that as their goal, the small stuff falls by the wayside, seen as unimportant in the grand view of things. That is as it should be, but what if someone in that group, are a group within that group, decided to make use of the information improperly?

The law is written too broadly and needs to be amended to allow for such intrusions on privacy only for the protection of the citizenry. Inasmuch as the men and women that protect us are good people, we cannot expect that proper use of the law will be made use of by them. They, like each of us, are flawed and capable of making decisions against that which is right. The broad powers afforded them are needed to protect us from terrorists, but the citizens need protection of their privacy rights in cases outside of terrorism.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Bush is Right

President Geo. W. Bush, the idiot son of a proud father, expressed this thought publicly yesterday:

“You can’t be the president and the head of the military at the same time.”

I heard it first on the radio coming home from work last night, and found it on the NY Times site this morning. He was, of course, speaking about President Musharraf of Pakistan, not thinking, as usual, about what he said and how it might apply to himself. As President and Commander in Chief here in the U.S., Bush has both jobs here in America. Perhaps he is thinking of quitting one of the positions? Both?

The American public needs to be served by it's elected officials by having W., Dick, Don, and others indicted on war crimes, removed from office, and thrown in the clink for their variety of crimes against the people which include lying us into war, war profiteering, racketeering, and murder of 100,000 Iraqi civilians.

Until we start indicting, convicting and sentencing to real prison those politicians that deceive, deny, and destroy America, we will continue to have representatives of the people that speak one thing and do another.