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My newsfeed this week was filled with stories about Mother’s Day being painful for some people (I know) and how we should temper our celebration of this holiday by honoring all women instead of just mothers. I read an article by a well-known pastor who said his church will not be focusing on mothers with their service today. Fair enough. I wonder if he’ll do the same on Father’s Day. Should we not single anyone out to thank them for their service lest it offend someone else?

When did saying thank you to one person mean you were leaving another person out? Is this a political correctness thing? Do they really mean by honoring mothers today we’re being exclusive instead of inclusive? What a load of crap! I don’t know how or where this new trend began, but it sucks!

Before you think me cold and indifferent to the pain floating around in the world, let me share a bit of my own story.

I struggled with infertility for seven years before I had my first child. I spent many Mother’s Days dying on the inside as I cooed at the baby sitting in front of me at church, and played with my friend’s kids. I know the pain of hope and wishing I was a mother.

I lost a baby in 2008. It’s the single most shocking and horrifying moment of my life, and I blogged about it here and here. My heart aches for all of the other women who’ve experienced such tragedy. I know the pain of all of those missed birthdays, hugs and kisses, and the little girl I’ll never know.

I grew up the daughter of a single mother with multiple mental illnesses. She’s no longer in my life, not because she died but because we cannot be in relationship anymore. I know the pain of not having a mother who could mother me. I meet women all the time who deal with that same pain, and I love several women who are missing their moms today because they’ve already entered eternity.

I get it. We are surrounded by wounded women. Many of us ARE wounded women. We should be sensitive to the experiences of others, but lessening how we honor mothers today doesn’t erase those wounds OR rub salt in them.

When we celebrate Father’s Day, we’re honoring the dads in our lives. Some biological and some not. We honor men who have fathered us and also the men who we admire how they father others. There are father wounds around us too, but celebrating fathers does not make men who are not fathers lesser in any way. It’s just not about them on that day, and that’s okay.

When we celebrate Veteran’s Day, we’re honoring the brave men and women who have served as military veterans in our armed forces. I’m not a veteran, so Veteran’s Day isn’t about me, but it doesn’t take anything away from me or cheapen my role in this world in any way to spend that day thinking about and honoring the veterans in my life.

Why can’t we look at all honoring holidays this way? Why do we have to perpetuate a self-centered, victim mindset? Sometimes it’s just not about you!

I am a mother. I’ve mothered hundreds of people in my lifetime and it hasn’t subtracted anything from the three children who live in my house.That’s the beautiful thing about love – it expands to fill the need.

Today is about celebrating who I am as a mother. It’s about honoring the sacrificial lifestyle I’ve chosen as a mom. It’s a time for my children, husband, friends, and family to acknowledge who I am and what I do.

Mother's Day card

Today is a thank you for the thousands of meals I’ve cooked and the mountains of laundry I’ve washed, dried, and put away for them. It’s a thank you for cleaning up vomit in the middle of the night, and my amazing splinter-removing skills. It’s a thank you for spending weeks reading the Harry Potter series aloud, and months teaching them phonics so they would someday be able to read Harry Potter on their own. It’s a thank you for the late night talks about navigating friendships with people who hurt your feelings, and puberty, and frustrations with school. It’s a thank you for the many miles I drive every day to get them to work and back home or connect them with their friends.

While I am grateful for the ways my tribe honors me on other days of the year, today is special. I get two days a year that are all about me, Mother’s Day and July 29th – my birthday. Let me have them! Let me be celebrated by my loved ones how they see fit and don’t tell them their actions are insensitive to the wounded women around them. That’s not fair. To those who think by honoring moms you’re being insensitive to other women, I ask you to rethink your position.

If you are a mother, I honor you today no matter what your circumstances are:

Those who have birthed a child, I honor you.

Those who have given a child a better home through adoption (both the giving up and the taking in), I honor you.

Those who chose not to keep their child and hope to be reunited with them in eternity, I honor you.

Those who have no children of their own but choose to love other children in their lives, I honor you.

Those who have lost a child, I honor you.

Those who wish they had a mom who cherished them, I honor you.

Those who are navigating difficult mother/child relationships, I honor you.

Single mothers, I honor you.

Married mothers, I honor you.

Widowed mothers, I honor you.

Happy Mother’s Day, Moms!

You are seen. You are loved. Thank you for who you are!

For everyone else: Choose to honor a mom in your life today! Kind words, a text, a phone call, a card or letter, flowers, chocolate, or time spent with them and for them. They deserve it.

kiddos

These three each gave me a dozen roses, a box of chocolates, and the rest of the day to do whatever I want…by myself. Happy Mother’s Day to me! 😉

 

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You’ve probably seen the headlines this week about Leelah Alcorn. The suicide note posted on Tumblr went viral in a matter of hours after **his/her death. It was shocking to watch social media blow up with this story and even more so to read the malicious, hateful comments about the grieving family left behind. Compelling as it is to call for better discussions about transgender issues, the media and most of the people commenting have taken away the liberty of Leelah’s family based solely on a letter written by a teen suffering from depression, and they’ve done so without having all the facts.

I get it. I’ve been there.

In 1999, I watched in horror as the news reported the shooting at Columbine High School. I knew a student there and practically shook with relief when we heard she was safe. It didn’t take long for the community and the media (and me) to cast stones at the shooter’s parents. What kind of parent would let their child have access to weapons? What kind of parent didn’t understand how sick their child was and get them help? What kind of parent would allow their child be bullied to the point where they decided to plan a massacre? Was there abuse in the home? Or neglect? Surely the parents held some (or most) of the blame. I watched as reporters swarmed their neighborhoods, trying to get a glimpse of the families or a few words from neighbors. There was a complete disregard for their privacy, and somewhere in my head, I justified it. We, the public, had a right to know, didn’t we?

I confess, as I grappled with that tragedy, I judged the parents pretty harshly. I judged the school for not stopping the bullying, and the students for being the bullies. Then I judged Eric and Dylan for being hateful people. I couldn’t see past my anger and fear. I was pregnant with my first child at the time and wept at the thought of bringing him into a world where kids are gunned down in school. I felt bad for Eric and Dylan’s families, but I didn’t understand what they were going through. Was there some part of me that thought they deserved the bad press and condemnation? Such ugly thoughts went through my head when I was desperate for answers. Have you been there too?

You know who I didn’t judge? The media. They terrified parents when they grossly over-reported the casualties based on incomplete information. They interviewed traumatized students who hadn’t reconnected with their parents yet. There was a lot of false and biased reporting going on, but that’s not what sticks out in my mind all these years later. They were just trying to do their jobs, right? I so easily forgave that, but held on to my judgments of everyone else. I am glad I know better now.

Last summer, a friend of ours went to prison. We watched as the media reported false information about him, including the basic details of the charges. Then a reporter and cameraman from Channel 7 decided they had the right to stand on our friend’s porch and put the camera right up to the window to shoot footage inside their home. They stopped neighbors and questioned them about our friend’s children – their names and ages, if they seemed distraught. When they got a glimpse of the girls, they tried to question them about their dad. Picture that with me, reporters aggressively pursuing children at their own home. Shame on them!

We are being marketed to. Bad news sells, and we buy it. We watch and listen to it on TV and read it in the newspaper or on social media, and we make our snap judgments based on data that may or may not be true. Shouldn’t we expect reliable details over sensationalism from our media? And what about the shocking lack of accountability? When they do get the facts wrong, we don’t hear the corrected version or apologies for rushing to be the first to report a story instead of verifying what they’re reporting is actually true. They cover their butts by using phrases like “alleged” and “reportedly”.  Retractions, when they do exist, get buried. They’re never headline worthy. In the meantime, lives are changed or destroyed and reputations ruined over shoddy reporting. Even if the truth is later revealed, by then it’s too late. The damage has been done.

Responsible reporting is a tough job. The story has to pique the interest of the people and it needs to be done quickly so it’s not scooped by someone else. Perhaps a little more time is all a reporter needs so they can check their facts before going public. It’s the media’s job to make us feel the news they’re reporting. If they can hook us emotionally, we’ll keep coming back for more.

Hear me! Tragedy or conviction of an individual does NOT remove the rights of their family. They still have a right to privacy, and to choose how or if they interact with the media. Oftentimes lawyers and law enforcement request that families refrain from speaking to the media at all, especially when there is an ongoing investigation. The typical response is to punish the family for their silence, using phrases like “refused to talk to us.” Families are treated as if their lack of interaction is a sign of having something to hide.

A friend of mine said we tend to process the news by either consuming it or condemning it. My guess is you and I have chosen both of those routes depending on what’s being reported and whether or not we agree. We are all guilty of assuming that a quick snapshot of a situation gives us the full picture. We assume, and from our vantage point, we’re sure we’re right even without knowing the whole story.

Words have tremendous power. With just a few clicks of a mouse and some carelessly chosen wording, we (the people on the internet) become judge and jury, and we’re bold about it because we’re holding court from behind a computer screen. We don’t have to see the pain in people’s eyes, or hear the sobs that wrack their bodies. We don’t have to form responses for questioning children who don’t understand the cruelty in the world. We proudly boast of freedom of speech until someone opposes our opinion and we don’t want to afford them the same freedom.

We don’t always consider the consequences of wielding our weapons of words. I don’t believe our hearts are evil, we just don’t always think before we speak or type. Notice WE is my chosen pronoun. I am guilty, but I want to do better. I want to BE better. Because of what I’ve experienced through my reaction to the Columbine tragedy, my friend’s conviction and now Leelah’s story, I’m choosing to step into a deeper level of maturity. I’m going to work on my discernment and how I respond to such things.

You see, Josh/Leelah is my family. His/her mom is my cousin. Carla is a good woman who loves all of her children. She is well-liked in her community, yet she’s being called a monster who rejected her son. One media source reported “years of abuse” based on the suicide note. It’s an unfounded claim, but no one seems to care. Because she’s a Christian and wouldn’t allow her child to undergo a sex change at the age of 16, she’s been labeled a homophobic, strict, hateful mother. There’s a bigger picture than the snapshot blowing up news feeds.

We, the public, have done it again – swallowed everything fed to us even though the investigation is ongoing and we have no idea what will come out of it in the end. Because Josh/Leelah struggled with her/his gender identity, there are many who are viewing this as if it were a hate crime perpetuated by the parents. THAT is what has gained global media attention. Josh/Leelah’s suicide does not give the media license to harass the family and report false and incomplete information. We need to expect more from them, and from each other.

After Josh/Leelah’s death, someone created a Leelah Alcorn Facebook profile, hacked Carla’s Facebook account and sent friend requests and messages to her entire friends list, and began posting hateful messages to her from her dead child. Carla is bearing the brunt of the blame for Josh/Leelah’s suicide as if it were her choice to lose her beloved child in this horrific manner. Merciless internet trolls posted her phone number on the web and encouraged people to harass them and make them pay for “killing their child.”

What we’re not seeing in the media are the reports of them having to call the police because of people peeking in windows, or news of all the hate mail they’re receiving, or anything about the group who plans to picket at the funeral. The LGBTQ community is leading the way in this “fight for justice” yet all we’re seeing is hateful vitriol. Isn’t there a better way to further the cause than to treat a grieving family with such callousness? Doesn’t the hate speech and encouragement of violent behavior coming from them contradict their mission? How is it any different than those who use the same tactics against them?

There’s a petition circulating to try to force Carla and Doug to use the name Leelah on the headstone instead of Joshua Ryan Alcorn, his birth name. As if that’s a decision that should be made by anyone other than the parents, especially the parents of a minor. That is not up for public debate or decision. Why on earth would we think it should be? None of us would want others to cross that line into our personal business like that.

A few of my friends posted the Leelah articles on their Facebook pages out of concern for the way transgender conversations are handled in the Christian community. I have no problem with that. I too am concerned and saddened by the lack of love shown in a lot of these situations. I have many friends who identify themselves as LGBTQ. I have always done my best to love everyone regardless of their gender identity or belief system, and I don’t withhold my love and affection based on a set of religious beliefs. In fact, my set of beliefs is the larger context for how I love others and there is no room for anyone to be left out of that. I prove that over and over, publicly and privately. There are lots of Christians out there who feel the same way I do but we are often labeled and rejected before given the chance to show it. I welcome respectful discussion on this and any other topic, but I’d like to get back to the point of my post.

I want to encourage you to have discernment when you read or watch the news, and to firmly grasp your humanity as you remember the humanity of others.

Please think before you speak or type.

I didn’t know Eric and Dylan’s families, but the Columbine tragedy and my reaction to it shaped me. I am sorry I jumped to harsh, unfair conclusions based on what I heard and read. I saw them as one-dimensional people as presented by the media and didn’t let their grief touch me.

My friend who is in prison? I miss him terribly. I love his wife and daughters and I am investing in their family, loving them through a tough time and speaking out on their behalf because they can’t. The media trashed them when they did nothing to deserve it. They were collateral damage. There have been no corrections or apologies and they don’t expect them. The media kicked them while they were already down.

PLEASE don’t do the same to my cousin and her family. They’re deeply grieving the loss of their child and being judged and crucified by people who know nothing about them. People who feel justified in their cruelty and want to make them pay. There are three other children missing their brother today. I wish I could protect them from the ugliness of those who don’t feel these kids are off-limits. Imagine yourself in their shoes and the terrible grief they’re experiencing. Let your heart ache for their loss, and don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Josh/Leelah left behind a gaping hole in our family. There was no hatred for him/her. He/she was and is deeply loved.

The media is selling you a snapshot before the larger picture has been developed.

Don’t buy it.

**I chose to use both gender pronouns to honor Josh/Leelah AND his/her parents. There is no malicious intent behind my decision though it will undoubtedly upset some of you.

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Sound bytes. That’s all I seem to have time for these days. It’s easy and I’m lazy. Period. I’ve had a love hate relationship with blogging and a love love relationship with Facebook. It’s true. Just ask one of my 1600 closest friends. Pop on in for a pseudo-conversation and a peek at my latest flair or mobile upload. Stop by here and see the dust collecting on my pretty daisies. It’s sad really, my laziness. I love writing, so why don’t I make the time to put fingers to keys and produce something worth reading? Laziness. Oh how I hate that word. Poor time management. Yes, that too. I like Facebook. Did I mention it’s easier?

I fondly remember the days when my blogging buddies and I frequented each others pages, spreading our encouragement, laughing at each other’s silliness, praying each other through the crappy days, and recommending books, music, movies, and other blogs. Many of them have abandoned blogging all together. Me? I’ve been treading water for a long time, trying to decide if I was circling the drain, just out for a lazy (there’s that word again) float, or if I was just taking a little break from the exercise.

Blogging used to be fun. Then I joined a writer’s group and it became not-so-fun. (Yes, I worded the sentence that way on purpose.) What was once spontaneous and gave me a public voice, became a millstone around my neck as I learned about platform, audience, self-promotion, and the words, “If you want to be successful, you NEED a blog.” Uh oh. Did I sense a bandwagon approaching? Is that what happened? Someone told me that I NEED a blog, so my rebellious spirit rose up to prove them wrong? I had been blogging for 5 years at that point. I didn’t NEED my blog, but I wanted it.  I watched as friends who had no desire to blog, created their sites and dutifully (another word I’m not fond of) clicked away to build their network. I hopped on over to Facebook and began getting friend requests from writers who don’t know me but wanted me to “be their fan” and help promote their work. Sure. I can do that. But me? Forced to blog because that’s what writers do? That rebellious spirit planted both feet, squared her shoulders up (can you see her hands on her hips and the challenging gleam in her eyes?) and said, “Wanna bet?”

Who likes being told what to do? How do I reign that girl in? How is it August already and I haven’t posted since January? I’m feeling it again. I want to blog. I want to connect through the written word and I want to have the freedom to use more than 140 characters, so I still fail to see the point of Twitter. Sorry. Facebook is my friend, but I miss my old friends, so here I am. I’m back again.

How have you been?

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IMHO, If you’ve never read Relevant Magazine, you’re missing out. From beginning to end, I find it informative, encouraging, challenging, and funny. This particular issue did something amazing. It reflected my political beliefs almost exactly. Seriously. I don’t have permission to reprint the whole article here, but I can print parts of it as long as I site my source. RELEVANT Magazine, Sept./Oct. edition 2008, page 6, /First Word-Leading The Charge written by Cameron Strang. Consider it sited. 🙂

“I’m someone who tries to think independently and objectively, rather than simply follow what the pundits tell me to think. Because of that, I’ve realized I cannot fully embrace either political party. Both sides of the aisle have some great ideas and goals. But both also have areas where they simply get it wrong.”

“… historically, real, lasting change has started first at the grassroots level long before it was ever legislated. Cultural mindshifts influence Washington, not the other way around.”

“Many Christians traditionally have voted Republican because of their justifiable conviction to protect the lives of the unborn. Now many younger Christians are voting Democrat because of their justifiable desire to see our nation, the most prosperous in the world, address issues of poverty, global aid, and the environment. The problem is, many Christians vote these convictions, but that’s largely where their personal involvement in the issues stops. Are the government leaders we vote for meant to do our job for us? If God has given you a heart for the poor, or to see a reduction in the number of abortions, or to promote peace…then your personal focus needs to be on that-whether or not the President shares your same values.”

“…what if one day every value Christians stand for, even religious freedom itself, was legislatively removed? Christians in China and many other parts of the world face this reality every day. Would it change us? Dare I say, it might actually spur the Body of Christ here into greater action. Could it be that the loss of religious freedoms would ultimately be the best thing for American Christians because it would cause us to stand on our own two feet rather than relying on the government to legislate our faith and values for us?”

“Christians should be focused on personal action regardless of legislation, not just waiting for the right number of Supreme Court justices to come along. I’m not saying don’t vote. Do. Vote your convictions and let your voice be heard-that’s one of the perks of living in a democracy. But don’t let politics breed division, or make you see people in a different light. If you have a passion for an issue, rather than judging someone who doesn’t share that passion or viewpoint, just go do something about it. Give your life to it. Be the change you want to see.”

“We need to pray for our leaders and our country, but always remember that our leaders and country do not define us. We are the generation that will shape the direction culture, government, and social action will take in the next 50 years. It’s not up to Washington, it’s up to us – and I say it’s time we step up and lead the charge. But that means with our lives, our finances and our actions every day. Not just Nov. 4.”

I have a friend who can’t stand Obama and another who can’t stand McCain. They’re both Christians and both want to talk to everyone they know about the election, bad jokes and all. Thankfully they live in different states and will never butt heads in front of me. I have another friend who doesn’t believe in voting because they believe the outcome of the election is a product of God’s will. I’ve made my point about God working through His people and that there may be a difference in what God allows and what He wants – to no avail. Notice I used the word “friend”. I don’t have to share their convictions to be their friends. I don’t draw lines and divide myself from others because they will vote differently than I do. I don’t care who you vote for. I will love you anyway.

I am not a Democrat or a Republican. I don’t align myself with any particular political party. Will I vote? Absolutely. I believe my vote counts. But my vote doesn’t change who I am on a daily basis. What I do is not based on legislature, it’s based on love. You will not hear me complain about the President – no matter who wins or loses. Their job is hard enough and they need my prayers. I have too many other things happening in life to spend all my time complaining about the current administration . There are people on the streets, in my neighborhood, and in my home that need my attention and devotion. There is no government that can dictate how I choose to leave my mark on the world – Loving God and loving others – extravagantly.

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Have you visited my Sex, Love, and Marriage blog lately?

I have a series of posts I’ve been working on regarding the debate over the One Less Campaign.  There are currently 26 states looking at the possibility of mandating the HPV vaccine for schoolgirls ages 9 and up.  Texas was the first and their governor has come under some pretty heavy fire.  It’s a lot of information but it’s worth your time to take a look at it.

Guess which camp I’m firmly planted in?   😉

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I want to thank my many friends who have warned me about this movie through emails and their own blogs. I know they wanted me to know the concerns surrounding this movie because they know and love our family and want what is best for us. I am grateful to have friends who care.

I have been wrestling with what to say regarding this topic. I started receiving these warnings last week and they’re still coming. One friend said she sent it to me because she knew I’d check it out. I’ve spent about 6 hours researching the movie, the books it was adapted from, and the author, Philip Pullman. I read websites, blogs, newspaper and in-person interviews, and even watched a few videos of Mr. Pullman answering some tough questions. The reason for my obsession? I don’t like bandwagons. They are overcrowded and smell bad due to a few of their facts being wrong or exaggerated. Since I’m more of the research-and-think-things-through-before-forming-my-own-opinion kind of girl, I decided to do just that. I’m pretty sure I’ve been down every rabbit hole available with the exception of actually reading the books myself. After taking in all of the information I could find, I have some observations I’d like to offer. But before I begin, I want to make a VERY clear statement that I am not at this time endorsing the author, his books, the movie coming out next month, or atheism in any manner. I am a follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ and will never be ashamed to say so.

When Benny and I saw the trailer for The Golden Compass in the theater, we decided it would be our family Christmas movie this year. The effects are spectacular, having children has warmed us to talking animals, and we love a good mystery/suspense/fantasy story. It seemed like a Narnia-ish kind of movie, which we loved. Benny bought the book so I could read it before the movie came out, but it has been collecting dust on my bookshelf. Fast forward to last week when the warnings began to arrive by email. I was very surprised. I talked with Benny and we decided not to see the movie. I threw the book in the trash bin of my office because I wouldn’t want to support anything anti-Christian. Throwing a book away about killed me. Books are my friends. 😉

I didn’t have peace about it so as the emails kept coming, I kept reading. I noticed that all of the warnings were pointing back to the article on snopes.com. So I read the article. I followed all of the links and resources and found that in several places the author was mis-quoted or someone’s opinion about the books were stated as fact. I read a lot of people’s comments that began with “I heard”. Not very many of the people commenting and interviewing had actually read the books. I started to get the same feeling I got a few years ago when this very thing happened with the Harry Potter books. I actually read the words of someone that said J.K. Rowling was a witch and promoted witchcraft because she wears pointy shoes! So it was time to dig deeper. What I found was disturbing. Lots of Christians persecuting this man and his works because he’s an atheist. Atheists yelling about New Line Cinemas catering to the Christians by removing the religious elements from the film – the “church” in the story is corrupt and they want that portrayed. People saying Mr. Pullman hates God. And everyone pointing back to snopes.com which was largely a collection of emailed opinions from readers or people who “had heard” something and wanted to pass it on.

Snopes is A reference, not THE reference. Even Barbara Mikkelson, half of the snopes team says, “The moral of the story is that you should never take anyone’s word for anything, including ours. That is why we list our references at the bottom of our pages, so that you can independently verify our work. We are the Urban Legends Reference Pages — we provide references so that people can do their own research. We do not claim to be the ultimate arbiters of fact.”

The snopes claim was:The 2007 film The Golden Compass is based on a series of books with anti-religious themes. After all that research I have to agree with them. But I also have to agree with the author regarding a few of his “anti-religious beliefs”. One of the most informative interviews I read was this one in which Mr. Pullman does in fact confirm some of why I won’t jump on HIS bandwagon. But I think he is right in railing against a corrupt church. I do too. Does that make me anti-religious? He says he doesn’t hate God – as has been reported by many. He hates the horrible things believers/the church/organized religion has done in the name of God. It has happened throughout history and we see that happening today not just with “other people”, but in some of our own churches.

I was in turmoil over this post because I have been frustrated a long time with how to address the ignorance and prejudice I see in a lot of religious circles. I’m annoyed by the hateful things Christians have been saying and the knee-jerk, angry, and fear-filled reactions from the people who haven’t verified their facts or read the books. By the time the FWD button has been hit, there is an emotional build up. That passion then fuels ignorance in warnings, insults, and discussions.

In several of the interviews I read, Mr. Pullman seemed to take issue with believers not walking our walk. We just talk like we do. Ouch. Mr. Pullman said it’s too bad we as believers don’t live like the Gospels say we should. I can see where he gets that. We are usually uncomfortable with major differences of opinion over anything spiritual. Those we disagree with are sometimes shunned or persecuted themselves. We forget the love we’re supposed to be treating each other with. We don’t allow for much exploration and examination of faith. We tend to expect people to just accept and when someone has deep, serious questions that beg for answers, we get frustrated that they don’t just “get it” and join our cause. Could this be where he is coming from?

Mr. Pullman has a very humanistic take on life. I believe he’s more agnostic than atheistic. Either way, he doesn’t share my values as a believer. I understand that. Does he still have something to offer through his writing? Probably. I have read a few articles by Christians who like his books and saw a spiritual message in them…not the one he may have intended, but good lessons none the less. Pullman has been called the male J.K. Rowling. As far as my research has led me, Rowling wasn’t trying to write the Potter books with Christian themes, but they are there anyway. I’ve read them. Is Pullman dangerous? Are his books dangerous? I don’t think he’s any more dangerous than he was in 1995 when his books were first published. 12 years ago. That’s a long time. Where were the warnings then?

It’s sad that it sometimes takes something like this to hold a mirror up to ourselves to see where our faith is. Do we support the film or don’t we?…and why? We need to use that mirror when we are considering ANY entertainment – movies, books, and T.V. shows. So here are my questions: Why is our faith challenged by atheism more than inappropriate sex, violence, and some of the other things we accept as normal in our T.V. shows and movies? Why haven’t I received warnings about shows that promote a lifestyle God wouldn’t approve of? I can give some examples of the shows I like that fit that description. I’m guilty too. One of the shows I’ve loved the past two years features a bunch of surgeons who sleep with each other every chance they get. yikes. That’s not the main focus of the show, but it’s a pretty big one.

I know sometimes it’s hard to know what to speak up about and what to remain silent on. I like to think believers have good intentions when they do jump on these bandwagons. I just wish it wasn’t so selective. Since I don’t know a single person who has read these books, I’m going to read the books myself over the next few weeks and blog about what I find. But right now, here’s what I want us to think about:

  1. We usually find what we’re looking for in books and movies. Good or bad.
  2. Sometimes we get what we don’t bargain for. Good and bad.
  3. There are spiritual lessons to be learned all around us – in both the good and bad. We shouldn’t go looking for the bad, but we shouldn’t assume everything is bad either.
  4. We need to know the facts then make an informed decision.
  5. We need to love and not judge those who come to different conclusions than we do. That is the way to walk our walk. There is only one judge and our role is that of the sinner. Sinners don’t get to judge other sinners…and we all are.
  6. We need to pray for Mr. Pullman. Like my friend told me yesterday, he could very well be a Prodigal son.
  7. What is it in us that wants to warn others? Is it true concern, or is it slacktivism?

As for the questioning of the faith of children, or the molding and shaping of that faith, (a concern that has been raised in this discussion), that’s for tomorrow’s post.

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After posting for two weeks straight about something uplifting, encouraging, and exciting, I’m kind of sad to be posting something “negative”. I haven’t posted a rant in awhile because I want to be a positive person. Right now I’m positively annoyed with receiving email petitions from well-meaning friends. I don’t sign email petitions – they are too easily faked, don’t really work, and are a waste of time. There are plenty of resources that say so, including Snopes.com and Truth or Fiction. com. The only thing they do is make me mad that people aren’t doing more on their own to bring about change they think is important. It’s easier to be one of the “1 million signatures needed”. You don’t have to get your hands dirty or build relationships. You don’t have to stand up by yourself and spend time actually working toward the cause you believe in, or take the time to make sure your communication is being received by the person who can actually make a decision to bring about the change you’re looking for. Signing an e-petition is a lazy way of saying, “I care, but not enough to actually DO something about it.”

No one in any position of authority takes email petitions seriously. Electronic signatures are meaningless, no matter how many hundreds of thousands are collected. There is NO documentation that this approach has ever worked. This site had some really interesting facts about why e-petitions are a waste of time, and here’s what they have to say about “Slacktivism”:

“Slacktivism is the search for the ultimate feel-good that derives from having come to society’s rescue without actually getting one’s hands dirty, volunteering any of one’s time, or opening one’s wallet. It’s slacktivism that prompts us to forward appeals for business cards on behalf of a dying child intent upon having his name recorded in the Guinness World Book of Records or exhortations to others to continue circulating a particular e-mail because some big company has supposedly promised that every forward will generate monies for the care of a languishing tot. Likewise, it’s slacktivism that prompts us to want to join a boycott of designated gas companies or eschew buying gasoline on a particular day rather than reduce our personal consumption of fossil fuels by driving less and taking the bus more often. Slacktivism comes in many forms, but its defining characteristic is its central theme of doing good with little or no effort on the part of the person inspired to participate, through the mechanisms of forwarding, exhorting, collecting, or e-signing.”

“For many, e-petitions satisfy the need to feel they are doing good and thus somewhat quell that nagging feeling they should be doing more to make the world a better place. As such, they serve a purpose as an outlet — those who “sign” such missives experience a personal sense of accomplishment in tandem with the warming sensation of having come to society’s aid. Good feels like it has been done in two directions — the signature helping a worthy cause, and the act of signing helping the person who was moved to add his name to the petition. E-petitions are sexy even when they don’t have a hope in hell of helping to accomplish their stated goals because they afford us an opportunity to bestow upon ourselves a pat on the back rather than continue to feel guilty about not doing our part. That nothing is really getting accomplished is almost beside the point; we believe we’ve been part of something worthwhile and so feel better about ourselves.”

That sounds about right.

In today’s case, the e-petition was titled, “Dr. Dobson & CBS Response”. Let me start by saying if you want to jump on board with something Dobson is trying to do, go to his website and join his cause. This e-petition begins by railing against CBS for discontinuing “Touched By An Angel” for using the word “God” in every program. The next sentence is about the atheist woman who is responsible for successfully eliminating the use of Bible reading from public schools. It goes on to say her organization has a petition that will “pave the way” for the removal of the reading of the gospel over American airwaves. And it boasts over 287, 000 signatures. The group is also campaigning to remove Christmas carols and programs from the public schools. The writer’s of this e-petition are praying for atleast 1 million signatures to defeat their effort. Great! A game of “I can get more signatures then you can”. Here’s the kicker…when you scroll down to the bottom, the petition my friend signed is to reinstate prayer in public schools and it’s supposed to be sent to President Bush at The White House by the 3000th signer. It was written to appeal to Christians through anger – talking about how “our” rights have been violated and we need to rally together. It was written without clear focus as to what it’s about – reinstating prayer wasn’t part of their convincing argument. It specified to send it to the President, but you know it’s NOT going to his personal email. What good does it do other than give the opinions of a group of people, some of whose signatures may have been faked? It’s junk mail that will be deleted by some administrative computer geek (no offense), or filtered as SPAM. The message part ends with “Together we can make a difference in our country while creating a way for the lost to know our Lord”. Good grief! What part of this creates a way for the “lost” to know “our” Lord?

The dumb thing is all over the place. There is so much more I could say but I’m done ranting for the day. I hope this post “paves the way” to people thinking before they pass along this trash to those who are actually getting their hands dirty and building relationships to bring about change. I love Jesus and care about our country and I don’t have to sign a petition or forward an email to my 10 closest friends to prove that I do, and neither do you.

Now copy and paste the logo I designed at the top of this post, and send it to all of your friends. I’m kidding!

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