21 marzo 2010

we could... make lists...

thought one:
ignorance is a form of oppression.

"Give us grace fearlessly to contend against evil, and to make no peace with oppression..."

thought two:
we could...

love God,
hate Satan,
free the slaves,
stop abortion,
feed the hungry,
clothe the naked and semi-naked,
house the homeless,
adopt the fatherless,
visit the sick,
comfort the imprisoned,
welcome the stranger,
stop evil,
work righteousness,
love our enemies,
do good to the ones who want to kill us,
destroy the works of darkness,
seek the Kingdom,
cast out demons,
heal the sick,
sell all we have and give alms,
bring the lost to Christ,
receive children,
disciple the neophytes,
relish the brotherhood,
honor the [president],
love people,
raise up a generation of God-worshippers,
worship constantly,
pray without ceasing,
rejoice in suffering,
praise continually,
give thanks for all things,
and be perpetually full and overflowing with the life of God,


we are unprofitable servants.
we have done that which was our duty to do.

ni más, ni menos.

or rather, we have done that which was our function to do...

like a bird busy singing all morning and flying all day...
like a tree reaching upward, making flowers in spring and shade in summer...
like the sea all roaring and crashing, then quiet and lapping, teeming with innumerable living things.

these are not nice things with which we might pass the time, si nos da la gana.
for this we breathe, we think, we feel, we speak.

for God...

thought three:
Why should the Gentiles say,

¨So. Where is your God?¨

But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases...¨
[lo que le da la gana...]

oh. and behold what He pleases to do...

-make sunrises.
-invent children.
-give laughter.
-irrigate rainforests.
-ice the tundras.
-snow in Texas.
-blow a breeze on the islands.
-crown the proles with lovingkindness.
-fill mouths with good things.
-deliver from despair.
-free the captives.
-avenge the oppressed.
-give sight to the blind.
-give the speechless a song.
-execute justice for those who suffer violence.
-represent the disenfranchised.
-animate dust.
-open minds.
-mend broken lives.
-heal diseased hearts.
-restore souls.
[you know, like give your soul back to you...]
-redeem from destruction.
[save from the discard pile.]
-give wisdom to idiots.
-educate the ignorant.
-give righteousness to wretches.
-rain on the land of the wicked.
[or let him think a while in an awfully dry one...]
-forgive debts.
-remove iniquities.
-give life to the dead.
-give love to the hated.
-give love to the hateful.
-give worth to the worthless.
-bind wounds.
-gather outcasts,
collect rejects,
select the losers,
...and then populate an invincible Kingdom with them.
-lift the head of the downcast.
-honor the shamed.
-rebuild ruins.
-construct an unshakeable city
[...without using His hands.]
-engineer streams in the desert.
-produce water from a rock.
-rain bread.
-consecrate temples to God in the midst of Babylon.
-bleed and die for the life of the world.

yeah. He's my religion.
What's yours?

20 marzo 2010

Comercial Cafe Altomayo

memoria de 2006... dig the beauty... this is a good commercial.

15 marzo 2010

The Protesters

I had a friend once tell me, "Every generation has one great evil they are responsible to fight against.... in the 1800's it was slavery. today, it's... "

i didn't agree with him at the time (so much evil! how to pinpoint one?!), but listening to this song, i was convinced that he is right.

we have our principle evil.

as a church kid, i've heard this issue all my life. i guess it'd be the same as if i was raised in a widow-burning India a few hundred years ago... or on a misson, surrounded by conscientious monks lamenting the exploitation of the natives. or maybe like being in a Southern family who regretted that our black neighbors are commonly considered subhuman... the main difference might be that our generation's great evil is a private one... a medical one... we see only the survivors, not the victims. thusly, i'm generally used to the evil. always regret it, but don't always think of it.

nonetheless, every now and again it hits me. frederica.com has caused some reflection (for instance: anyone born after 1973 could have been legally murdered. we are the survivors of the holocaust... don't we have something to say?!) but this weekend, it was through this song that i was reminded,

"i live in a country that kills our children. i'm pro-woman and pro-children and both are being totally and completely oppressed... murdering and being murdered..."

but what does it mean to fight? i would be willing to tote a sign and march a march, but my schedule won't let me devote myself much to political activism... and i must confess that in the past, the seeming ineffectiveness of that approach has contributed to my apathy. i'm not much for political solutions.

so. here are thoughts. please contribute as well.

Christ's solution? Incarnation and atonement... He knows what it's like to be a baby in a crisis pregnancy... Came, survived His generation's murder of the innocents, and died for all the murderers and murdered of history. for all their life and for all their sin, too.

even if their lives turn out terrible, horrible, grievous (in response to those who think terminating life is the most compassionate response compared to allowing the suffering that is sure to follow), even if their life is filled with horrors and harm, Christ PAID THE PRICE to redeem the worst life from destruction. in other words, they are never without hope. at the end of an oppressed life, they can know that compared to eternity, it is nothing. in the middle of life as an unwanted, unappreciated, unloved human being, they can find everything in the God who loved them enough to a) will them into existence, and b) bleed and die that they might live. forever. with no more tears, no more heartache, no more abuse, no more neglect. He will never leave them nor forsake them.

and it is enough.

the Christian's response?

1) Love the children who did survive pregnancy. Build a life where the existence of children is never an inconvenience. Or where, when their actions or needs become inconvenient (they are children, after all), your life shows, "I was born and redeemed precisely for inconveniences such as these."

2) Love the at-risk group, the unwanted, the unbeautiful, be they 8 or 82. Contribute to the ones who have nothing to contribute. Murder proceeds from the heart. We only kill people after we think them disposable.

3) Educate the youth: Violence is NOT the answer. You do not make either a crime (incest), or a terror (rape) or a "problem" (teenage pregnancy) better by murdering a child. If death might fix the problem, it's not the child who should die. (my texan is showing.) Children must encounter young that fetus = human, and we don't kill innocent humans. This is not hard to do. Equating an unborn child with mere tissue is not something that comes naturally to children. They don't know what tissue is; they think it's a baby.

4) Reason with others of a different mindset. They can give you all sorts of insights into problems we need to be addressing if we want to save children's lives. Find some place to discuss these things. Interrelate with coworkers on more than just an superficial level. People's lives are at stake... as your coworkers believe, so will their children.... and anyone they have intellectual and moral influence on.

5) Work the system as much as possible. (Politics, democracy, etc.)

6) Help women/ girls who are in a crisis pregnancy. Yeah, it's probably not your "responsibility." Yeah, their families, churches, and communities should help, too. I'm just saying, if there's good at your hand to do, do it.

7) Help single mothers who did have the righteousness to bring the child to term. They sinned, but they did not add iniquity. Somehow, cultivate respect for these women.

Think of what these women have endured! Childbirth and child-rearing is not a light experience in the best of circumstances! To decide to do what is oh-so-difficultly right, although you have opportunity to "make it all go away," although you have been abandoned, although your heart is broken for numerous reasons, although your dreams will have to die, although you will lose sleep, although your standard of living and social status will most likely stay at the bottom for the foreseeable future... that is not a decision a coward makes.

Many have been stupider or more unrighteous than they and yet seem to escape the consequences and burdens that these meet full in the face. The absent men, for instance. The girls who are "smart" and use birth control. The "lucky" ones. But these have an incredibly heavy load precisely because they accept responsibility. That should be recognized. Have compassion. If we all received what we deserved and alone had to shoulder the load we have packed with our own sin... ay de nosotros.

even if you don't think that much of the mothers, for the sake of the children, for the sake of society, for the sake of breaking cycles of ignorant sin, step in and provide them with a living, breathing alternative. i didn't say write checks or be stupid or allow others to use you or become an enabler. just step in and represent your Savior. the world has promised this woman much but all it really has to offer involves stealing, killing, and destruction. represent the one who said, "let the little children come to Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven." and the kingdom of heaven... is so not overrated. show them how to get to the Father of the fatherless, the Defender of the oppressed. Do not worry that you will have to be their savior; He's capable of sustaining them...

trust me. from the heart of a survivor, i know.

***let me close with a thought from another friend several years back. We know God hates murder. We know God loves help for the helpless. We know God does not merely emote about these things, but is a God who executes justice for all the oppressed. Why does He tarry? Why don't we see plagues breaking out on us? ...Just because He is longsuffering, not willing that any soul should perish, even those of a pro-murder society. But the day of judgment is coming. Sooner for some of us than others. And let us not think of God always judging "them." On the last day, (who knows how far away it will be?) God will judge US... there is no patience for pacifists in the war against evil. let us reflect: "How did we as individuals within a society ... participate in the sins and virtues of that society?"

12 marzo 2010

grading amusements

i'm grading some essays my students wrote for state mandated english assessments of ESL students. (called TELPAS, for those who care to know.) it's work for everybody involved, but very interesting.

for instance, had i never given the science prompt to "describe 3 animals and explain how they interact with other living and nonliving things," i would never have had several of my students inform me some variation on the theme that "vampires are some of the animals that go in the night. They kill people and sleep on a tree with his feet. The vampires live in a cave because they don't like the day. Some of the vampire drink some bloods of the humans." (i had mercy and edited the above excerpt for spelling.)

see? language is all about connotation... and their little neurons can't think of the concept of BATS without getting the easier accessed word VAMPIRE as well. what blows my mind is that the original excerpt included the silent "e" on vampire... what a world.

from a prompt requiring them to write about their favorite character from Narnia and what they would do did they have a day with that person:

*"If I was in Narnia I was go with Aslan because I want to see the beautiful hair of Aslan."
*"My favorite character was Aslan because he is strong and I want to be like him. And play in the snow."
*"My favorite character is Aslan becasue he was a lion and 'osoom' [sic]. That's why if I was in Narnia I play with Aslan in snowfight and snowman and play the monster."
*"If I was in Narnia, I will take the wand of the witch and make a rock."

from the good ol' "when I grow up..." prompt... less edited:

"When I grow up i wanna be a Presedent. Because I will have alot of money but i don't care how many money I have. The only thing is my career of presedent i care. I can give money to stores so they can pay more two the workers. I can even low down teh price of the gas station for one dollar. If I were presendent I will do everything for people so they can live better in the whole world. Like Barack Obama, but more better than him. ...I will be good and if they say that we don't sell beers we will not sell beers or we will put army where they pass a state to another state so they can't pass drugs or weapons to Texas...."

[personally quite entertaining:] "I would like to be a teacher because I can take my class to recess and be nice to them. And give them a little bit of homework and so I can print stuff. I would give them a assignment in the morning. And if they don't do their homework I do not let them go to P.E. If they do it I will let them go to recess for a extra 10 minutes. If they are really good, I will make a pizza party. [that child, brilliant boy, TOTALLY PUT THE COMMA AFTER THE INTRODUCTORY CLAUSE ALL BY HIMSELF. wow. i'm seriously impressed. in case the all caps didn't give that away...] When they are bad I give them soem work to do. If they are normal I will give them fun stuff to do and some work. And in Fridays I will not give them any work or homework. I will be good teacher. [Unlike which bad-giver-of-homework-on-weekends, dear?] I will never be mean unless they are bad. And I will give them rewards for being good. Like some designed pencil. And in the end of school I will give them something."

... one assignment was for them to write about their P.E. class last Friday. What a fascinating thing it is to read 16 children's portrayals of one 45 minute period. How different they all think! How telling is their description of others... wow...

verbal thought: 15 chimes in again

today, during a movie, #15 would/could not stop commenting. now, normally, i'm a big movie-talker myself and thusly have a high tolerance for it. today was different and some of the more silent of my students were perturbed. "miss h, can you move the ppl. who are talking?!"

so i did. he talked less, but still he continued. i periodically sent withering stares his way. sometimes he'd trail off into a "sorry" and return his attention to the movie. one time, he totally destroyed my ferocious glare by excitedly finishing his train of thought and then punctuating it with a matter-of-fact, "i'm done now," and turning back to the movie. so much for "the look." i think i need a spring break to polish it up...