|Winter 2006 Issue|
Normally I write this piece of the newsletter entirely from my own perspective. But, an item I forwarded to my "Friends & Family" email list (shortly after the Fall 2005 Mini7News was mailed) received a provocative rebuttal. The topic is a primary issue facing Christianity, and I would like to share them both with you.
Point - Paul Harvey on Prayer
Paul Harvey says:
I don't believe in Santa Claus, but I'm not going to sue somebody for singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December. I don't agree with Darwin, but I didn't go out and hire a lawyer when my high school teacher taught his theory of evolution. Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game.
So what's the big deal? It's not like somebody is up there reading the entire book of Acts. They're just talking to a God they believe in and asking him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans going home from the game.
"But it's a Christian prayer," some will argue.
Yes, and this is the United States of America, a country founded on Christian principles. According to our very own phone book, Christian churches outnumber all others better than 200-to-1. So what would you expect-somebody chanting Hare Krishna?
If I went to a football game in Jerusalem, I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer.
If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad, I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer.
If I went to a ping pong match in China, I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha.
And I wouldn't be offended. It wouldn't bother me one bit. When in Rome . . . .
"But what about the atheists?" is another argument.
What about them? Nobody is asking them to be baptized. We're not going to pass the collection plate. Just humor us for 30 seconds. If that's asking too much, bring a Walkman! or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit the concession stand. Call your lawyer!
Unfortunately, one or two will make that call. One or two will tell thousands what they can and cannot do. I don't think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world's foundations.
Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our courts strip us of all our rights. Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating; to pray before we go to sleep. Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying.
God, help us! And if that last sentence offends you, well . . . just sue me.
The silent majority has been silent too long. It's time we let that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard . . . . that the vast majority don't care what they want. It is time the majority rules! It's time we tell them, you don't have to pray; you don't have to say the pledge of allegiance; you don't have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him. That is your right, and we will honor your right. But by golly, you are no longer going ! to take our rights away. We are fighting back . . . and we WILL WIN!
God bless us one and all ... especially those who denounce Him. God bless America, despite all her faults. She is still the greatest nation of all.
God bless our service men who are fighting to protect our right to pray and worship God.
May 2005 be the year the silent majority is heard and we put God back as the foundation of our families and institutions.
Keep looking up.
Counterpoint - From The Minority
Paul Harvey is an idiot. You want to pray for the protection of the people in a football game, or for our soldiers – do it silently. I would stand up and praise your god the day the "silent" majority was actually silent. I am so tired of hearing about the "Christian" ideals that this country was founded on, how put upon the Christians are because they can’t proselytize and preach to anyone within earshot at anytime they choose. Woe is me! I can’t place a huge statue of the ten commandments in front of a courthouse so the whole world can see how firmly I believe in the laws of my god. Never mind that I am inside condemning a man to death and denying his chance for appeal. Woe is me! I can’t speak freely about my faith and offer up prayers of worship and thanks to my god whenever and where ever I want to show my devotion. Never mind that I chastise my neighbor for speaking out against war, or the president, or whatever else he says that I don’t agree with. Woe is me!
But Christian churches outnumber all others 200–1. Well what do you expect? One must have true conviction to fall out of the lockstep of social propriety by daring to follow something other than Christianity. African Americans are constantly accusing Caucasians of not knowing what it is like to be a black man in our society. How they are downtrodden and held back based only on their skin color. Well, I have a great way for you to find out how they feel. Tell someone who is a "devout" Christian that you aren’t. Better yet, have it come up in a public area – surrounded by lots of Christians. See how people look at you. Wait for the first person who wants to tell you about what you are missing. See how included you feel.
You want to pray before you eat, go ahead. You want to pray before you go to sleep, go ahead. Pray in your churches. Pray in your houses. Sing along to religious hymns at the top of your voice while driving your car. But if you want to pray at MY courthouse, pray at MY football game, pray at MY recital, or graduation, or public meetings, or on an airplane – do it for yourself, do it quietly. Like the rest of us non-Christians do.
You may hear a Jewish prayer in Jerusalem – it is a religious democracy. But you may also hear a Muslim prayer – Jerusalem is shared after all.
You probably will hear a Muslim prayer in Baghdad. It is on its way to being a religious democracy – or a Theocracy depending on how the chips fall.
You won’t hear a Buddhist prayer in China. China is a communist state. Belief in anything other than the state is outlawed.
But more than likely you won’t hear a prayer at all. Because other countries view religion as something personal and private. Not something to be flashed about like a halftime show.
And in America – we do not hold one religion above all others. We are inclusive. Yes, the guys who founded this country were Christians. But most were businessmen first. Yes, ideals of Christianity are entombed in our laws. The same ideals that can be found in Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism. Christianity doesn’t have a lock on good ideals.
Just laws, rights for the oppressed, equality for all – that is what makes America the greatest nation on earth.
If you want to become a Jew, you must repeatedly ask. A person seeking to convert to Judaism is denied three times. For Jews that weeds out people who aren’t serious about the faith. If you want to learn about Buddhism, you must ask to learn three times. For Buddhists, that stops frivolous questioning. Christians could really use a rule like that. Right now, if you want to learn about Christianity – just pause for a moment in a crowded room. Someone will fill up the silence.
Christians in America aren’t pious – they are braggarts. And from what I see on the news, read in the papers and hear in conversation, most are hollow braggarts – more interested in others recognizing their Christianity than they are in living it. I think, the one who shouts the loudest usually has the least to say. So take your Christianity back inside. Your faith is yours – it is personal. Get it out of my government and my arenas – I have already said my prayers.
The Mayonnaise Jar and the 2 Cups of Coffee
When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee . . .
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.
He then asked the students if the jar was full.
They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full.
They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.
The students responded with a unanimous "yes."
The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the grains of sand.
The students laughed.
"Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things -- your God, family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions -- things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else -- the small stuff." "If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first -- the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.
The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."
by Brandon Wilson
Be trusting. Have faith that the path knows where it's going – even if you don't.
Be generous. Travel lightly. All in life is a gift. What you don't need, give away.
Be human. There is no harm in getting lost – only in staying lost.
Be a friend. Folks along the way impact your life, if just for a moment. All too soon they leave to follow their own path. Don't resent this. Bid them good journey. Thank them for their gift.
Be content. Savor the small victories along the way.
Be grateful. Even the smallest things on the path are either a gift or lesson.
Be flexible. Sometimes trails just vanish. That doesn't mean you've lost your way or were on the wrong path, only that there's a different one now.
Be hopeful. Tomorrow is another day waiting with the possibility of success.
Be happy. Laughter and song are nature's tonic for adversity.
Be aware. It is the journey that ultimately matters, not the destination.
Be kind. On the path, even the smallest word of encouragement makes a difference.
Be humble. Walking on dirt is easier on the feet
than walking on pavement.
Above all else,
The following is the philosophy of Charles Schultz, the creator of the "Peanuts" comic strip. You don't have to actually answer the questions. Just read [the e-mail] straight through, and you'll get the point.