Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What Happened?

What happened that we have come to the place where people are condemned for judging evil rather than for doing evil?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be

Last night, as I was shutting down our computer, I looked at my email and saw a message from Mark Taylor, he sent it at 7:02 PM. Mark and Melody moved from Virginia to Arizona a year or so ago to train for foreign missions. We know Mark but we don’t know Mark, which is to say that we’ve been around him a few times, even had Mark and Melody over for dinner when we lived on the Zuck homestead. He can be very funny and cause your sides to ache from waves of laughter. Mark and Melody are unpretentious, down-to-earth, and compassionate. Mark’s email reads:

Hello friends, We have just learned that our 2 year old Granddaughter, Desiree Amaia Taylor, has passed away. She is the daughter of our son Gabriel. Please pray for Gabe & for our family & for the family of Brittany, Gabe's wife. Reports are sketchy at present, but we are told she stopped breathing.

Thursday morning Vickie and I prayed for Desiree, just like we’ve been praying for Desiree since her birth when Mark and Melody told us there were health problems with their newborn granddaughter. It’s been a year, maybe more, since we received an update on her health but she’s continued to be part of our prayer lives. In fact, when Vickie and I pray for others Desiree has been linked to Tyler and Carolyn; Tyler is the teenage-grandson of friends and Carolyn is the young-adult niece of friends; both Tyler and Carolyn have rare diseases. Our prayer has been along the lines of, “We pray for Tyler and Carolyn and Desiree and ask you to please heal these young people and have mercy on their families.” We pray for the three together…now we’ll pray for comfort for Desiree’s family. This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be, but it is the way it is.  

This has been one of those seasons at work when it’s not the way it’s supposed to be has been a daily reality, front and center. Job applicants failing drug testing, an employee who looses his job due to a failed drug test, lying and deceit, subterfuge and defamation when being held accountable, and theft by a trusted team member. On the one hand the fact that it’s not the way it’s supposed to be ensures that I will always have plenty to do at work, on the other hand it does get wearisome. When it’s not the way it’s supposed to be is raging it is like being blindsided by wave after wave at the beach, once the first wave in a series hits it is difficult to regain orientation and firm footing, the waves keep coming, the sand keeping churning, and you remind yourself to stay calm and don’t swallow water.

A friend called me yesterday afternoon, “Bob, did you get an email from Kevin?”

“No,” I answered.

“His church forced him out, I thought I should tell you in case you can encourage him.”

Kevin had only been at his church two years, not long but not surprising considering statistics on pastor tenure. Kevin isn’t a “friend” in the true sense of the word; I hardly know him, his wife, and his children. Yet I have spent time with him and I have met his wife and children so I have a feel for this family who is now faced with an uncertain future. As I recall the pastor – candidate process didn’t take very long, again not surprising because that’s the way most of these things are handled – people are in too much of a hurry to spend time together, to talk, to explore, to pray, to do their best that the pastor and the church make a good match. Unspoken mismatched expectations eventually lead to conflict.

A couple of months ago I looked across the table at Cracker Barrel at Brien as I listened to his story. His family had moved from the Pacific Northwest to Georgia so he could accept a “call” to a church at the behest of his denomination – he lasted less than six months due to an extended family not relinquishing dictatorial control over the congregation. When I learned that he had made only one candidating trip to the church I asked him why he spent so little time with the prospective church, his answer was that that is the way it is done in his denomination. Pretty stupid. What Kevin and Brien and their families are experiencing is not the way it is supposed to be.

As Christian apologists have pointed out, it’s not the way it’s supposed to be should give us pause to consider where we get this idea that things should be different, how do we come to have an idea that things should be different? Where does this idea come from? If we are the products of time plus matter plus chance then there is no logical reason we should be able to visualize life other than as life is, life as it is should simply be the norm and we should have no sense of things beyond the norm. There should be no difference between dying young and dying old or dying in middle age beyond utilitarian considerations, there should be no difference between a doctor and a killer beyond utilitarian considerations – beyond my personal wants and needs – if in fact what we see is all there is. But we don’t think what we see is all there is, even professed atheists generally think there is something better beyond a simply scientific or utilitarian  “better” – just observe the way they treat their children, their children are more than objects, more than “things”. As we move beyond ourselves we should ask, “How did we get beyond ourselves? What did we touch? What moved us? How did we mutually arrive at the same place in terms of thinking, of ideal, of experiencing joy, of appreciating beauty? How is any form of community possible if there is not something beyond ourselves which we can touch and which touches us?”

I didn’t sleep much last night as I pondered it’s not the way it’s supposed to be.

I was driving to work this past Thursday morning on winding Bailey Bridge Road when a call came in, Vickie’s name flashed on the dashboard screen. Since I had only left the house a few minutes ago I was surprised to see her call; I was more surprised to hear what she had to say. “I was reading the Chesterfield Observer (a weekly paper) and saw that Adam (not his real name) was arrested for a sex crime.” Before the day was over we learned that the crime involved a minor. The thing is, you see, is that Adam is our former son-in-law and that Adam has custody of our granddaughters. We don’t know the details (nor would I share them if we did) and there has not yet been a trial; this is a sickening feeling for a grandparent, this is not the way it’s supposed to be.