samedi, avril 05, 2014

"Rip the bandaid off"

It wasn't until this week, after a rather delicate conversation with a local funeral director, that I realized that, (at least from his point of view), there was such a thing as asking too many questions (this query concerned embalming fluid).



The death industry, like many others, has been changed by our new emphasis on disclosure. That's good, probably in most ways, though there is a lot out there in questionable taste.



For instance -- a video om embalming might be educational (though I didn't feel the need to watch to much).  Frankly, however, I think a demonstration of "embalming grandpa" may be TMI.  I stopped clicking when "are you 18 or older" came up on the screen.



But as Josh Slocum, a consumer advocate for people like us suggests, it's easier to plan ahead when the event doesn't seem imminent - much tougher when you are a grieving family, and you have to decide right now.



What do you talk about, when you talk about death?





Column: Confronting death in this day and age - LancasterOnline: Faith And Values

mercredi, mars 26, 2014

An open letter to World Vision

Dear Mr. Stearns and World Vision Board --

I don't think I can trust you anymore.

To be honest, I never paid much attention to your policy on marriage and abstinence before marriage. I'm still confused about why you decided to open employment possibilities to those in same-sex marriages (before your board reversed that decision).

I have my own opinions and beliefs about that.

But I was supporting a child because you are  a reputable Christian organization who put the welfare of poor kids first.

Don't worry, I'm not going to stop.

I was appalled by the idea that people would cancel their monthly credit card or check deductions because your organization was no longer "pure."

It wasn't you that was going to suffer -- it was the desperately poor kids you help.

I have no idea why you made the first decision. I haven't paid much heed, but I'm sure that there are conspiracy theorists who think the government made you do it.

I''ll be honest with you.  I really don't believe what you said when you reversed it because people came to you in the spirit of Matthew 18.  I saw some of the tweets.  Most likely, you did the math, realized how much you would lose by allowing a broader definition of marriage for employment purposes, and reversed your course.

I'm in no position to criticize the pious married who stormed your doors in outrage, or even in humility.

I made a hash of my own marriage, walked away from my vows -- mostly, couldn't find a way to make it work. So who am I, then, to criticize you, those who are so clear about right and wrong, good and evil, judgment and mercy?

But I'm not alone - the pews of evangelical churches are teeming with people like me.  Probably many of them are your supporters.  We're so quick to focus on other people's perceived sins that we don't even notice that some people are given a free pass, while others are sent to prison.

I saw the effect of the sexuality wars in my denomination. While I struggle to define biblical marriage as anything other than that between a man and a woman,  I'm not a culture warrior. Like Pope Francis said -- who am I to judge?

Who am I to judge, knowing how much of a sinner I am? Who am I to judge, given the fact that churches so often serve their own at the expense of the world? Who am I to judge, given that there is so much self-righteousness and blame around already? Y'all don't need me.

What of those outside the evangelical bubble?

As a journalist, I've been spending a fair amount of time talking to non-Christians (or former believers) recently.  Some are alienated from the church. Some simply don't think the church matters. It literally has no part in forming how they make moral judgments.

And that's a shame.

Because when organizations like yours behave the way you just did, they are a scandal to the world. And Christian organizations don't need to be tainted by any more scandal.

I won't stop supporting my child, now a teen. But I'm going to stop supporting you.

P.S. The quote below is from the prophet Amos, and there's plenty more material in the Hebrew and Christian Scripture on the same theme. God didn't say much about homosexuality -- but He seems pretty consistent about hypocrisy.

Go to Bethel and sin;
    go to Gilgal and sin yet more.
Bring your sacrifices every morning,
    your tithes every three years.
Burn leavened bread as a thank offering
    and brag about your freewill offerings
boast about them, you Israelites,
    for this is what you love to do,”
declares the Sovereign Lord.