Monday, August 31, 2009

A SynchroBlog: Clowns to Left? Jokers to the Right? Stuck in the Middle of the Health Care Debate

I am not fan of the current bill standing before congress on health care. I am not convinced that any reform is good reform. I do not feel that stating this I stand in the way of progress. Clowns to the left of me would say that is what I am doing by not supporting the current ideas.

I do not appreciate the rude signs, yelling weirdos, and aggressive tactics of those who are protesting in town hall meetings across the US. I do not like the demonizing e-mails I receive about the current health care reform bill. But the jokers to right are still there shouting.

I do not think that all supporters of the current health care reform bill assume that I standing int he way by disagreeing with the current bill. I know for a fact that most of the protesters are well behaved tax paying citizens who want to have their voice heard, because it is their money which is being used to create this series of entitlements. They believe that they are continuing in the great tradition having their voices heard if their money was involved - taxation WITH representation.

I do not understand the demonization of John Mackey from Whole Foods who wrote an op ed in the Wall Street Journal giving his opinion on the health care reform bill. It seemed like a responsible metered consideration of the issue from someone who disagrees with the current bill, and was offering his own options to solve the problem.

For myself I wonder how we get all up in arms bout this issue, and nobody says anything about prescription drug abuse, and abuse by insurance companies, the overall lack of health in our nation...just to name three problems.

Is health care still a right if I abuse my own body? Is calling it a right being used by the industry to shackle Americans into an abusive unhealthy system?

I am not sure if the current bill offers more problems than answers, but I want the debate to continue in order to find out. Unfortunately most of the voices I am hearing now are demonizing the other side - from the highest positions on down there are clowns to the left, and jokers to the right. So here I am, stuck in the middle. Anyone else out there stuck in the middle with me?

Synchroblog on a Christian Response to Healthcare

Today is a SynchroBlog release on the subject of Healthcare from a Christian Perspective. Steve Hayes at the blog Khanya suggested this subject, and you can follow his link below to read his thoughts. The other contrubutors are listed below. I will respond later today with my post on the subject.

Phil Wyman at Square No More (that's me): Clowns to the Left. Jokers to the Right. Stuck in the Middle of the Health Care Debate
K.W. Leslie at The Evening of Kent: Christian's Responsibility to Healthcare
Ellen Haroutunain: Christian Perspectives on Health Care
Steve Hayes at Khanya: Self-evident Truths and Moral Turpitude
Kimber Caldwell at Convergence: Is Health Care a Right?
Beth Patterson at Virtual Tea House: Baby Steps Toward More Humane Humanity
Liz Dyer at Grace Rules Weblog: A Christian Perspective on Health Care Reform
Kathy Escobar at Carnival in My Head: It's Easy to be Against Health Care Reform When You Have Insurance
Susan Barnes at A Book Look: Carrying Your Own Load

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Urdu Poetry and the Honor of Distant Friendship

Gul Bakhshavi works at the 7-11 behind our house. For the last 10 years I have been walking around the corner late at night. Before Elijah grew up, got married, and moved out he and I would walk there and talk late at night, and meet Gul's smiling face.

Gul has been working the graveyard shift most of the 10 years we have lived here. I would greet him with a smile, ask him about his home and family in Pakistan. We would do small talk, and then I would smile and leave with a running joke about the fact he worked the graveyard shift.

He would say "have a good night."

I would reply, "Have a good day." He would laugh because it was the beginning of a long night doing the graveyard shift. He sacrifices himself each day, and plans to work 10-12 years in the US, living frugally, saving money, and then go home with enough money to live comfortably.

Tonight I saw Gul again. I really don't remember his name, and he does not remember mine. Once he gave me a series of tapes on Islam, and shared his faith with me. He knows I pastor a church in town.

Tonight he gave me a book he wrote. It is mostly in Urdu, but has an intro in English. It is a poetic translation of 400 years history, combined with a rough poetic translation of Obama's acceptance speech.

I did not vote for Obama. I would not if the election were to happen again now. That does not matter. Gul wrote on the back/front page, "for my best friend Phil."

I am honored:

1) to be given the book.
2) to be called a friend by a Muslim man working in the US, and waiting his lonely days before he returns home.
3) to see into his heart and see the hope Obama's election brought to him.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Our Stories and Knowing God

As we look through the stories of our lives we discover lessons in our experiences. The climactic and notable elements of our lives differ from person to person. Our life stories give illustrative examples, and lessons which come from our own base of knowledge and passions. Could it be that these same stories also give us examples which tell part of a greater story - the story of God? and that these stories individually illustrate small elements of the greater knowledge and passion of God?

Heilsgeschichte, or salvation history was a popular term of theological reference (particularly in the 50's) to the story of God as it is discovered in the history within scripture, but also in what has been referred to as HIStory: a traveling narrative of human history filled with the illustrations of the character of God and the working of His redemption.

If human history is filled with illustrations of God's character, then our individual stories, which make up those small elements of the greater human story may hold snapshots of HIStory. If this is true then we all have lessons about God etched into our own life stories.

Moses' story is perhaps a good place to start this pursuit of finding a micro heilsgeschichte. The key components of his story are peppered throughout his life from borth to death.

• Moses was born at a time when the Hebrew children were being slain by Pharaoh, yet he survived by his parents cunning and miracle.
• As a young man he was raised in the house of Pharaoh though he was a Jew.
• He later tried to help his people, the Jews. He killed an Egyptian and had to flee Egypt because of this.
• He spent years herding sheep, and later married the daughter of his boss.
• God met Moses in a burning bush which was not consumed, and called him to return to Egypt and deliver his people the Jews from the slavery of Pharaoh.
• He did as asked and God performed many miracles. The children of Israel were delivered by God through the leadership of Moses, and the stories of these miracles became the centerpiece of salvation history for the Jewish people.
• He suffered with a stubborn and disobedience people for over 40 years in the wilderness, and in the end did not enter the promised land himself.

This brief outline of key components of Moses' life story illustrates the variety of things which may make up our own stories, through it certainly does not exhaust the variety. From birth to death our own stories have elements, which may tell a small piece of HIStory just as Moses' life does.

Some of the things which may be influential elements include:

how and where we are born
how we are raised
our health, our sicknesses, our injuries
our intellectual capacity and learning
our passions and pursuits
our occupations, our service and our hobbies
moments of fortune or calamity
the words we speak, whether in a moment or repeatedly
actions of great bravery or cowardice
sins and bad habits
personal interactions with God
the means of our death

There is more we could consider, but these are some beginning points to write out our own story in search of finding God in our own history.

Of course, just like reading the Bible can be difficult reading our life story can be hard as well. Just as the Bible can be twisted to say what we want it to say our life stories can be twisted by our poor perspective to teach us lessons we were never meant to learn. We are too often spiritually myopic - too close to see truth.

This is no new thought. There are people who have taught this, and you can pursue it further. Keri Wyatt Kent writes about this, and teaches to hear God in our own life stories. Variations of this may be found in Psychology, and hopefully I will remember the rather complex text of the Fuller Theological Seminary professor who wrote a book about discovering God's Will bu charting your personal history, which I read about 20 years ago.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mental Illness and Genetics

My friend Stephen Nicholson sent me this link to Oliver James teaching about about Mental Illness and genetics. He is quite controversial, and you can see people in the audience a bit upset over his conclusions. I am 20 minutes into the 60 minute teaching, and love it so far.

Check it out here

As he quotes from Erich Fromm's The Sane Society, "We live in a crazy society, and you'd have to be mad to be well adjusted to it."

Nice stuff.