Tuesday, August 21, 2012

three hundred

My beloved friend, who I've been getting to know slowly over this past year, recently invited me to join a group called "We are 300!"  It's an organization of networkers and entrepreneurs, people who want to make a living as well as help others in the process.  Presently, I'm cautious yet open about this because I want to know if it's a group of integrity.

So far I haven't had the time or tools to find out everything about this group.  Well, actually I had time yesterday but I used that time rather unwisely by checking facebook too much.  Excuse my tangent here, but if I use facebook more than seven times in a day that means I'm in serious danger of becoming a narcoleptic.

What was I saying?  Oh, yeah.
I'll know it's a genuine group if I observe the following:

1. The people in it treat me—a visitor—with respect.  They address me by name and respond to my friendly messages of inquiry with a regard for my feelings and personhood.  I'm not ignored.  They're open to my opinions and questions.

2. I notice the group is outward focused.  If the members are only buying products from each other, the group is undoubtedly going to become more and more corrupt and self-righteous.  It's most beneficial if events and conference calls are centered around what can be done for those who are lost or need help.  Hopefully, the group interacts with outsiders on a regular basis.

3. The group values people more than money.  Money, though recognized as something needed, is not fussed over or hoarded by a small percentage while others are left starving and/or marginalized.

4. If there are regulations, they're adaptable so as to accommodate the Goal.  The group's policies are not more important than the mandate to care for people.  And, come on, if a member of the group has the choice to observe a conference call or else be present with someone who needs a friend, it's the needy someone who takes priority.  A person is always more important than a silly group-made rule.

5. People in the minority are honored, even if they hold unfamiliar opinions.  This means that differences in culture or race are respected rather than frowned upon.  It doesn't mean agreeing on everything.  It means treating them with decency and speaking about minority groups in a positive light. 

6. It's not only one person or a very select few who have power in the group.  The group functions as a team as much as possible, to help guard against abuse.

7. Creativity is encouraged.

I don't expect any group to fit PERFECTLY into this list, but these are things I'm watching for in "We are 300!" so that I don't get scammed.  If I see a lot of problems in the areas I've listed, I'll probably encourage my friend to back out of the group with me.

"We are 300!" says I can join the group for free.  However, I hear rumor that I have to pay $99 at some point.  This is where I want to be really careful.  A group that claims I can join for free, but then tries to force me into paying something in order to be a member, could easily be a complete fraud.  I'm still looking into this.  


Thursday, August 9, 2012

thoughts on education

Question.  What happens when we sequester our children in an institution where only Christians are allowed in?  Or, on a more troubling note, in a school where we only welcome Christians of a very specific type?  For someone looking in from the outside it’s easy to pass that off as outright bull-headed arrogance or snobbery, but personally I think it may have more to do with fear than anything else.  People, in general, are afraid of what they do not know.  And it’s probably safe for me to say there are a significant number of Christians who know very, very little about anyone outside their comfortable, relatively risk-free cliques. 

Of course, out of love for our children we care about their education, but I also think as parents we can trust God to help us teach our children discernment and wisdom, qualities that may help them sort through whatever garbage and gems are fed to them by the North American education system.

That said, I don’t think it’s wrong to send our children to a Christian school, indeed it may be helpful, but if we’re going to send them there it better be because of our faith that we're free in Jesus to do it.  Personally, I’m convinced that having an institution (church or otherwise) dictate to me where my children must go to school is absolutely absurd.  The last thing I want is to be a slave to that master.  I’ll not be coerced by some churchy authoritarian figures acting as if they themselves are gods, intimidating and forcing people into doing what they want.

In September our daughter will start grade one at a nearby public school.  There are children from a variety of backgrounds—Agnostics, Sikhs, Christians, Atheists—who attend there and I believe they’ve all been beautifully created in the image of God.  I hope to get involved at the school, especially after our youngest starts going, so I get to know the students and some of the other parents.  Getting to know people, no matter their upbringing, is a joy and to love them is an even greater joy still.  I look forward to it.

Monday, August 6, 2012

no, He didn't

Jesus DIDN'T say:

- When someone wrongs you, get him back.  He deserves it.

- This is how to get to heaven: go to church.  It has to be every Sunday.  And if anyone starts skipping church, you must punish him.

- When someone even remotely appears to disagree with you on what Scripture says, treat her like she doesn't exist.  That will teach her not to be different from you.

- Gather as much wealth as you can and hide it or spend it on yourself.

- I look at outward appearance rather than a person's heart.

- If someone from a different background starts coming to your church, do not make any attempts to get to know him.  Don't ask questions about his life.  Don't make the mistake of accepting him because he might infect you with the devil's diseases and ruin your family.

- Ignore the poor.  It's their own fault they don't have any money.

- Quick!  Get that speck out of your neighbor's eye before she uses her evil powers to jam a log into your own.

- I only came to save a certain group of people.  I don't care about anyone else.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

the cat came back

i laid denial to rest in the corner
but i should've known:
she never stays put
       she prowls,
       beckons with beguiling claw
       to render me stupefied,

bright as lightning
white light cracks the ground

       are those her tracks beneath heaved stones?
       God most certainly knows