As The Crow Flies: trying to find some direction after Paris and San Bernardino. (reprint on 04-29-19)
This article was first printed several years, and several shootings ago but it needs to be read again. Please read it and spread it. There is a personal reason for this urgent request als. There is such a thing as “Backdoor Pararisee-ism” that must be placed in the “Bad Religion” section also. I will try to develop that more completely later.
Enough is enough. I know that you have said that, or at least you have thought - - Enough is Enough. For all of us in Southern California (again) the problem keeps getting closer and closer. But, we all know that geography is not an important element in the problem. The target area is any place where a crowd of innocent people are together having a good time. That is the place where all of us live most of the time, especially at Christmas and community celebrations. And this is my fifth time to sit at my computer and try to say something that will help us focus and hopefully begin to see a way forward. Once we focus then perhaps we can look past now to a better place and time.
I have some knowledge of the three major religions that are much a part of the discussion and I have some friends in all three groups. Just recently I greeted my Jewish friend with a warm handshake. I hugged my Muslim friend with a warm embrace, and my Christian friends -- well most are more like family than friends. And the question for all of us was, “How can anyone justify murder in the name of religion?”
There are three other important groupings that should be in the discussion and I have friends in those three groups as well. The three groups are “no religion,” “bad religion”, and “good religion.” (The definitions for “no religion” and “bad religion” are mine alone) The “good religion” definition is found in the book of James 1:26-27 in the New Testament.
“Do any of you think you are religious? If you do not control your tongue, your religion is worthless and you deceive yourself. (27) What God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering and to keep oneself from being corrupted by the world.”
James 1:26-27 (ESV)
That is a rather simple and strait forward, "take to work on Monday morning" definition of religion that really doesn’t need a great deal of explaining.
I have a rather large group of friends in the “no religion” group. They, not I, define themselves that way. I believe that as a preacher / minister, at least thought to be in the “good religion” group by some, I must cultivate a large presence in that “no religion” group. Those friends help me keep my balance.
I have some friends, and they are a bit standoffish, who are in the “bad religion” group. This group really needs some defining and my definition might surprise you. Without getting technical and becoming argumentative let me focus on only one fact. The “bad religion” group has one thing in common. They are convinced that their concept of religion is right, perfectly right, and that is alright. But here is the rub. It is not enough for these people to believe they are right -- everyone else has to be wrong. That is right EVERYONE ELSE HAS TO BE WRONG! It is just that simple. If your religion places you in that very exclusive club then there is a real possibility that you have made the first step toward the “bad religion” group.
As we struggle with a very difficult world in which there are many efforts to explain why things are so difficult may I make one simple suggestion. If I am comfortable in my position on religion and if I make room for you and your religion then perhaps we have already taken one small step in the right direction.
PS: If you think my religious perspective might be interesting, then we can talk, alone, at your time and place, and I promise I will never try to trick you into that kind of conversation.
Tasha 2 is dead:
I have had an interesting history with dogs. Fact is, my father was a compassionate dog catcher for Fort Worth, Texas and he had a tendency to bring his work home with him. Because of that dogs have always had a place in my world. The last three dogs covered a thirty-eight years span. The first of the three was “Dandy,” a purebred Poodle. His seventeen years with the family included all of the children’s growing up years. After Dandy with a couple of over lapping years was Tasha 1. Tasha was a Symoid and a beauty, a ball of solid white hair, and a willingness to share. Tasha’s thirteen years were in a transition time and because of that she had some difficult times. These last eight years and counting are for Tasha 2. She too is all white, willing to share and is a Siberian Husky and Wolf mix with a bit of something else mixed in. But it is the combination of Husky / Wolfe that makes everything else interesting. Can I add something here?
It is finally official, we checked the records and Tasha 2 is officially nine (9) years old and a rescue dog. We rescued her from a grandson who was not settled enough to keep her. Our first step after the rescue was to place a five-foot high chain link fence around our bit of land to secure a safe place for her. We have a number of resident coyotes (five at last count) in the canyon we call home. The coyotes were not at all pleased with the change of access and the addition of another four legged creature in the area. That started a space conflict that has lasted for the past eight years.
But I must not get that far in front of myself. Eight years ago I was seventy-five (note: On this writing, I am now 85 years old so my dates don’t really match-up) and Tasha 2 was one year old. With a rather loose interpretation of the relationship of dog-years to people-years we could reach ninety years old about the same time. That definitely means that Tasha 2 is (if we make it) my last dog. We are right now talking ten years down that road and that means that I am 85and Tasha is sixty-three. Please pardon the interruption Tasha 2 just came to the office door to check on me. She fussed -- which she does a lot -- and then lay down in the doorway. Wherever I go next she is prepared to follow. Back to the story. With the last dog title I determined to make my relationship with her something of a person/pet experiment. The basic rules are these: Tasha will have total access to Wanda, me, and the house. Rule two:I will never speak loudly to the dog. Rule three: as much as possible keep a simple and consistent schedule for her. That is pretty much it and as we have all three grown to the lifestyle of those three simple rules many fun things have been added to the person/pet relationship. An application of rule three-- never feed Tasha from the table, but she is part of any snacks anywhere and any time in the house.
Here are just a few of the results. Total access means that the house is Tasha 2’s den. That means that the furniture in the house is part hers. Any member of the pact can move furniture but if you aren’t in the pact move furniture at your own risk.