Sunday, December 13, 2015

Tussles of Faith

Jean P. Purcell


Tussles of faith are bouts of strong questions to God, for understanding in complicated times. In tussling with God, I speak to him, not about him, and I believe he will give an answer. I don't know when or where, but an answer or insight will come. When that happens, I see again that myself alone could not reveal that. If you want another idea about tussles, I would say that mine remind me of my picture of Jacob wrestling with an angel. He was wrestling with God, with heaven. What prompted him was spiritual, earthly, and private.

I used to tussle with God much more than I do now. I learned over years he always comes through for me and others in the hardest times if one stays steady in faith and does not wrest the issue from God's hands. God has also surprised me with the way things have turned out when I have laid all on the line, by faith.  

Look at the world now - every horrible thing we can think of, and more, is happening. In the not-so-distant past, a spreading tsunami killed 250,000 people. Life ended in seconds and a few hours for so many thousands of people. The earth itself is trembling, quaking, groaning, and records show this as nearly a current state around the world. Threats of global hunger, warming climates, and droughts bombard documentaries. I wonder, how can a young person bear such widely spread information or prognostication daily?

"Wars and rumors of wars" is biblical language, and the facts are in our faces, as has been the case for every generation. Now, however, the pace seems to pick up. Fear abounds over terrorist plots, globally. Paris killings happened only three weeks ago. It seems like yesterday. Then San Bernadino, CA, was hit less than two weeks ago, the second deadliest terrorists' attack since 9-11, I heard.

Media reporting often increases fears after the fact. We hear of many "first ever" and "never before" and other "worst ever" events. Geneva, Switzerland, had terrorist hunts last week. One journalist said that the city was on edge and "for the first time" officers in peaceful Geneva carried rifles openly. When I first visited Geneva, 1986, I noticed military vehicles on the grass alongside the runway. Inside the airport, officers walked with weapons at the ready, gripped double-handed, pointed sideways and down.

Harkening back to the Ottoman Empire, whose inroads in Europe were pushed back after WWI (the part played eventually by Turkey is interesting reading) today's terrorist militia aim for a new, global caliphate. They target civilians and military people and gain ground through terror cells. Intentions to bring about a global caliphate with mini-caliphates are deadly serious. However, as happened when Churchill warned about coming disaster prior to World War II, many hearing today's news refuse to believe that it could overtake "us." This is a view expressed by some leaders in the U.S. Yet, every "little" success by caliphate disciples advances control against freedom. Ignoring the actions of nation-grabbing enemies could transform the future in dark and vicious ways. Europe and America woke up almost too late, in Hitler's day.  

Old wounds are often not allowed to heal in today's world. Louder voices and growing numbers of people today protest and seek revenge or citizen justice, while circles of suspicion expand. "We demand" is a theme now threatening university and community safety and, possibly, institutional survival sometimes. As has been said before, there is a big price to pay when ignoring damage done by small successes of chaotic actions.  

Any of those reports can start another of my "tussles" with God, crying out to him in fear, complaint and questions. I am not alone in this. The biblical psalms are full of this. I read in them the same problems we learn about today, including the wicked prospering, the evil succeeding, the wealthy growing in power and ambition. I read of foolish people following what is wrong and good people suffering for it. I see strong chaos and weakening responsibility and duty.

I pray more as I read about Then, Now, and the Future: 

"'Vengeance is mine,' says the LORD."
"Forgive your enemies," says Jesus,
"Pray for those who spitefully use you."
"Trust in the LORD and do not lean on your own understanding."
"...I am with you always," said Jesus.
He also said, "I am coming again, in the last days."

All war will cease. All abuse will end. All disease and pride will be finished. The Kingdom of our God will reign in a new heaven and earth. "Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord."

Are we ready for that great and glorious Day, you and I? Are we praying unceasingly, wherever we are, whatever we are doing? From such times flow the works of Christ in and through us, for us and for others. There will also be a Day of Judgment, no question about it. It will attend to wickedness done on the earth in high and low places; there will be no chance to bargain or seek parole. I do not know if the two days are one, and I do not need theological tussles about that, I am so relieved to say! I just know that only the Son of God, the Advocate, Jesus Christ, will stand with believers at his return and at the court of God's justice. Jesus paid the ransom for every person with faith in him. They "will not perish, but have eternal life." 

It continually amazes that Jesus willingly laid down his life for us to be relieved of our stupid and evil sins...the ransom paid with his own life and blood. "By his stripes we are healed." He rose again from the dead, the First among many of his redeemed heirs and has promised that he prepares, even now, a place for us, "many mansions." The trusting homeless and the innocent abused might be the first among all. I have read how he honored with his attention the widow who gave to God the last of her earthly coins. I do not argue about anything, nor do I want ever to tussle again with the One who has made great and glorious promises to all of his children.

He gave me a new heart. He transforms my thinking. He forgave me my wrongs toward others. In addition, toward him, Almighty God, omniscient and glorious. He draws me with his love so deeply revealed through Christ, regarding his suffering and dying on the rugged, cruel cross of Calvary; he proved himself at the empty tomb. He proves himself every day to those who believe in him. "He [God] has given us everything we need for life and godliness through His Son... ."

I want to be among his throngs at my last moment or on that Last Day, however it happens.  Meanwhile, I'm reading a book that reminds me that people near imprisonment, torture, and death...regular Europe in 1938, finally knew that a terrible darkness was on its way and would soon engulf them and the way of life they had known.Then, Hitler's army was marching and flying closer and closer. Today, many real threats punctuate our days and loom closer in larger number. I want to be among those Christians facing the fearful future on earth with one eye on the glorious future God has for us. Nothing can kill our spirit and nothing can rob us of eternal life with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

On this day, I hope for an abundance of Amen to the enduring promises of God.  May his Word go forth in power wherever it is read.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

2015 Thanksgiving Alone?

English: "The First Thanksgiving at Plymo...
English: "The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth" (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Thanksgiving 2015: Thinking for the people of Paris. Thankful for experts that risk their lives to help save others. Thinking of Syria, hoping for refugees to find safe havens. This Thanksgiving Day, there are three of us at home in Maryland. Others in Massachusetts and Tennessee, as well as North Carolina. Older brother in nursing home since earlier this month, in North Carolina. Thankful for the family love that surrounds all.  
Below, Thanksgiving 2012 thoughts, as true today for me in its essence as then, just after Hurricane Sandy. Fitting for this Thanksgiving 2015, after Paris attacks and other tragic events of these times.

My first Thanksgiving Day far from home, I had been living a few weeks, since October 31, in Geneva, Switzerland, because my husband had a new job. That day in Geneva and around the world, most people went about their usual routines with no thought of something called the American Thanksgiving holiday. The day's routine seemed upside down as my husband left for work. I went back to bed. You know, the blues. Thanksgiving. Alone. 
     After a while, I reached for something to read, to lift my thoughts. Slowly, words from the psalms settled into my heart. I read them* over and over again.
When my husband walked into our apartment that evening, it was after 6 PM, Geneva time and just past noon EST - back home. Boo hoo! Our family members were probably gathering around tables for happy feasts--in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Florida! There was a good evening meal I'd prepared for that night, when he walked in. And we gathered our two selves together and ate it with thanks!    

*O God my Strength! I will sing your praises, for you are my place of safety (Psalm 59);

For wherever I am, though far away at the ends of the earth, I will cry to you for help...for  you are my refuge, a high tower (Psalm 61).

     This Thanksgiving Day is a time to remember people thrown into upheaval. It is a time to remember, with thanks, volunteers who serve others. It is a time to be thankful for survivors in Paris and for families of those who died in the attacks of hate. It is time to give thanks and prayers for those who guard and seek to protect cities and nations. 
     If you are alone reading this, I am thinking of you and people I know who might be alone all day or far from home. I hope the Psalms will help you and them, too. Here's to a blessed Thanksgiving to you, for your life and hopes!

On Thanksgiving, 2012, I wrote: "There remains much work to do after the sweeping devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Volunteers and government workers continue to help. Still there are needs, and this holiday, through Facebook and Internet links, people hit hard by Sandy are being invited to others' homes to share Thanksgiving Day.  
     "This Thanksgiving Day is a time to remember people thrown into upheaval, along with their homes. It is a time to remember, with thanks, those who serve, including volunteers who may not be home this Thanksgiving, and also the New York City mayor, New York state senators and NYC's representatives."

Copyright (c) 2012, 2015 Opinari Writers. Do you like this blog? Join, Tweet, FB, Like, or Recommend it? Thank you.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Memorable Smokies Break-away

Hey there! My husband, Jim, and I are in the Great Smoky Mountains this week, having good days near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Jim is giving a fresh look to all of his book manuscript, Hope of the Phoenix: How three presidents saved millions of refugees in a conflicted world. When not sleeping, I read, think, and do a little Internet surfing. We get together on our condo's patio that faces mountains - for refreshing change of pace every afternoon. We soak in the fresh air and watch more leaves turn their bright, dying colors. 

This morning, I listened to Pope Francis's address to the U.S. Congress. I felt moved by the four Americans he chose for focus - President Abraham Lincoln (a man of peace and reconciliation), Martin Luther King, Jr. (a man of dreams and daring), Dorothy Day (a woman of social conscience and action on behalf of the poor and neglected), and Thomas Merton (a man of prayer and contemplation). All remained open to God and the work of God in individual and national life.

At lunch time, Jim and I went down the mountain to a barbecue lunch that was scrumptiously diverse. There were chicken and pork barbecue, baked beans with dark molasses taste (yum!), coleslaw, cold pasta salad, potatoes, and huge bread rolls. We did not taste everything, but I decided to dig in on the pork, baked beans, coleslaw, and pasta salad - four choices enough to take me well past dinner! Oh, and beverage choices including unsweetened and sweetened iced tea.  I think of it as Tennessee Tea.

We sat beside a swimming pool across the way before taking a shuttle back to the top of the mountain with our heads full of interesting conversations with other "take a break"-ers on the shuttle, at lunch, and as we walked around and saw now-familiar faces. We learned that Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where we once lived, is being made into a national park. We'll try to get over there before we depart this gorgeous state of many family memories.

Now I'm ready to post a link to Jim's 2002 monograph, The Perils of Unresolved Humanitarian Problems, with preface update, now a 2015 Kindle Direct ebook

Here's hoping you are getting ready for a relaxing weekend, or at least a few relaxing, contemplative, active hours. See you soon, friends.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

SYRIA - Hearts go out to the country of Paul's day

A zealot, Saul of Tarsus, in Jerusalem

In the first century when Jesus was born, a devout Orthodox Jew journeyed from Jerusalem's persecution of Christians to Damascus (Syria) to persecute more Christians. On the way the Lord confronted him. It was a conversion like all conversions to Christ--individual, unique, highly personal and transforming.

Paul, saved by God, goes to Arabia

Later, this man, once called Saul and then Paul as a devoted follower of Jesus Christ, went to Jerusalem and was not accepted by the apostles, because as Saul he had persecuted Christians.

He left for Arabia to study in what some call the school of the Holy Spirit. What was "Arabia" to Paul? N. T. Wright, in Paul, Arabia, and Elijah (Galatians 1:17) proposed that "Paul went where Elijah went. He went to Mount Sinai .... The word 'Arabia' is very imprecise in Paul's day, covering the enormous area to the south and east of Palestine; but one thing we know for sure is that for Paul 'Arabia' was the location of Mount Sinai."(See paragraph 11 in N.T. Wright article linked above.)

Mount Sinai, also called Mount Horeb, is on the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. If N.T. Wright's reasoning is correct, that is where Paul went, that triangular, arid, desert region of Egypt, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.

Paul travels back to Damascus

From Arabia, Paul returned to Damascus: "In the Galatian letter in 1:17-18 Paul clearly states that upon his return from Arabia he came back to the city of Damascus. Exactly how long Paul’s stay in Arabia lasted is not clear, but combined with his return visit to Damascus was a period of three years." (Tracing the Steps of Paul)

His visit to Caesarea, then Syria

Next, Paul went to Jerusalem, then Caesarea. Then, again, he went into Syrian regions:

"... Upon Paul’s departure from Caesarea, Luke tells us in Acts 9:30 that he was sent forth to Tarsus. It would be logical to conclude on the basis of his route that on his way back home to Tarsus this is when he stopped by different cities and visited brethren in the Roman province of Syria. Paul referred to this in Galatians 1:21." (Tracing the Steps of Paul)

Consider the capital, Damascus, then and now

Some say that Damascus existed 1,000 years or more before the birth of Christ, surviving takeovers by different empires. Three hundred years before the birth of Jesus, Damascus was a large Muslim caliphate. By the time of Jesus' birth, the Roman Empire ruled Damascus. 

After the crucifixion of Jesus, and when Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, he could safely travel into Damascus; he was a Roman citizen. Damascus in those days was a thriving city of architectural, artistic, and trade interests.

The Christian community across Syria is one of the world's oldest, going back to the days of the Apostles. "... and there are Christians of today that speak Aramaic. In northern Syria, near the city of Aleppo, the historic Church of St Simeon Stylites the mountains west of Homs is the castle of Krak des Chevaliers, which was a fortress for the Knights Hospitaller during the Crusades." The castle is now badly damaged, bombed by government jets after it was used as a base by rebels in Syria's civil war. (Middle East)

In 2015, in the Syrian province of Hassakeh in February, hundreds of Christians are feared to have been kidnapped by the militants. Senior Christian clerics have also been kidnapped by unknown gunmen. Suspicion for the abductions has fallen on the Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate. "While their community faces a clear threat from the extremists of the Nusra Front and Islamic State, Christian men have been fighting in the multi-layered conflict - either alongside Kurdish militias or alongside relatively secular rebel factions, or government forces." (Syria's beleaguered Christians)

Christian and Muslim Syrians 

The apostle Paul nurtured believers wherever he journeyed, including his travels through Syria. Christians today are descendants of millennia of Syrian believers in Jesus Christ. Only five years ago, Syrian Christians made up about 10%, or 4.4 million, of the country's population. 

During on-going war and fighting in and beyond Damascus, neighborhoods are made into rubble and many sites destroyed, including the Aleppo mosque, northern Syria, shown below, debris hanging and repair seeming to lie far into the future, if at all. 
Aleppo mosque damage: Aleppo's iconic Umayyad Mosque in ruins
 Aleppo mosque in rubble. Photo source and ownership: Copyright (c) The Guardian. Share with attribution.

Damascus and Jerusalem  

Damascus is an important history location to Christians around the world; it was where God began to teach a new Jewish disciple of Jesus Christ and to call him to preach to the Gentiles. That was the apostle Paul, once known as Saul of Tarsus.

Let's pray for peace in Syria and for the displaced Christians and Muslims. The persecuted are Christians who resisted threats and fled for their lives due to their faith and the ongoing conflicts in Syria. Let us pray for places of safe asylum for all, until they can return home in peace.  May those who follow Christ be encouraged by those who meet, feed, and house them. 

Jerusalem was the city where Paul, who had persecutied the church as Saul, was at first under strong suspicion by church leaders. Jerusalem was where Paul was tested and accepted as a true believer, willing to suffer for the gospel. 

Let us pray for the peace of Jerusalem, beset on every side, yet helping Syrian refugees. Let us learn biblical teaching about Jerusalem, including prophecies, and watch and pray that all will be fulfilled.

     For, "In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay." Hebrews 10:37

Wednesday, September 16, 2015



I am guest blogger on the Hope of the Phoenix blog today. If you want to read, you can go here.

Tonight's CNN GOP Candidates Debate might tell us what present candidates on the GOP side of the 2016 presidential elections race know or do not know about refugee solutions.


Thanks to a friend's email this a.m., with photos including the one above, Jim Purcell...continue reading

Monday, August 17, 2015

"Is anybody there?" - Syrian asylum-seekers

Does anybody care?

In Syria and beyond, turmoil continues, not least of it the fate of innocent citizens longing for peace and caught in the crossfire of warring parties. When help comes, it comes from humanitarian organizations and workers from non-warring parts of the world. The citizen workers also likely echo "Does anybody care?" It takes more than food and tents, the usual picture of refugees and displaced persons. It takes governments and policies, strategies and conviction followed by action. The United States should lead, as in the past, to make these innocents vitally important to the leaders of all non-warring countries looked to in the past. That is my view.

Here is part of the record that we, too, need to care about.

Today, attacks on asylum-seekers causes alarm in Germany.

Are Americans ignoring Syria's humanitarian crisis? Mort Abramowitz wrote that he thinks we are, and why he thinks so.

Similarly, "Who cares about Syria?" was Valerie Amos's opinion article in The Washington Post earlier.

Fred Hiatt wrote of a "defense of inaction in Syria," a provocative article about the record of current administration foreign policies.

Finally, but not least, is Thomas E. McMahon's letter to the Post in reaction to Valerie Amos's op-ed: How the U.S. can help Syria's citizens.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Furor over Planned Parenthood's "troubling insensitivity"

The furor over uncovered Planned Parenthood secrets in the sale of body parts of unborn male and female babies has shocked nations.

Anyone speaking out against these newly revealed practices must know feelings similar to those of the prophet Jeremiah, as history repeats itself in disastrous and inhumane decisions. He was punished by a king and the king's ministers for prophesying as God had told him to do.  

Jeremiah warned against the pursuit of false gods and self-interest. And God showed mercy in the delay of his wrath, repeatedly. 

As I read Jeremiah, I realize that the same gods of self-interest are followed everywhere. After videos came out showing Planned Parenthood's practices of human body part harvesting, respectable-looking people went before cameras with words selected to gloss over the implications. A bill was introduced in congress, however, and  reached the U.S. senate for a vote "yes," not to refund Planned Parenthood.   

Senator Tim Kaine voted "no," issuing a statement intended, it appeared, to blur the significant illegalities within Planned Parenthood that violate conscience, morality, and ethics:

     "For many women and families across the country, Planned Parenthood health centers are their only source of high quality health care. That’s why I voted against legislation that would deny more than 2.5 million Americans important primary care services. For years, activist groups like the Center for Medical Progress have sought to create controversy around Planned Parenthood as a way to reduce women’s access to health care. While the recent videos released by this group highlight a troubling lack of sensitivity on the part of a few individuals, moving to unilaterally defund Planned Parenthood is not the appropriate reaction'” (Augusta Free Press).

Enough other senators joined Mr. Kaine in voting "no" to the  bill to defund Planned Parenthood, thereby defeating it. They illustrate a fatal weakness of this nation's increasing tolerance for gross crimes against unborn human beings, growing the way every living person continues to develop into physical maturity, starting inside the mother's womb. 

Sen. Kaine's comments reflect the respectability that is on show, like a rose, for an agency that profits billions of dollars from tax revenues and hundreds of millions from abortions, annually.

Other facts cannot be changed. First, the lives of unborn children were violently taken in abortions, due to other violence, rape and incest; then, the lives of unborn lives were aborted "for any reason or for no reason"; now, up for discussion is the careful harvesting of unborn infants' organs for "caring" reasons. 

Their power, however, cannot touch women who receive their health care at places other than Planned Parenthood, by choice. Women who choose not to use Planned Parenthood record a win every time.

In Jeremiah's day, appealing people that acted with guile eventually had to be silent, as God closed off every escape. 

To sow death and deception means, I believe, a terrible reaping ahead,  a whirlwind.  I would not want to experience such a day. 

"...they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind"...(Hosea 8:7).

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Gospel, first, always

Jean P. Purcell 

Noah Webster (1758 – 1843 ) is a well-known American historical figure remembered for his significant contributions to American letters - including spelling books and his word dictionary, as well as literary criticism, political writings, journalism, and reviews. 

 He is rarely, however, mentioned as a deep-thinking Christian believer. I wonder how many people have heard that he was. I recently realized his Christian calling when I read a letter he wrote to a friend in Boston, dated 1809. It has gripped my attention for many days. It is called "The Peculiar Doctrines of the Gospel, Explained and Defended." It is about the preeminence of the Gospel.

Noah Webster was troubled by the first place churches were giving to the doing of good works. The Gospel had, if you read his text, almost been laid aside. The same mistake causes concern among some of us today.

Webster provided a convincing case for us who are of churches, to urge re-assessment today, and in strong, unapologetic words. Webster described a creed based on good works as "...a rock on which perhaps more intelligent men are shipwrecked than on any other." 

Such a creed, he stated, is overturned by this one defect: "that no man destitute of a principle of holiness, or a supreme love and regard to his Maker, can perform the moral duties, in the manner which the laws of God require."

He explained why man's motives if "destitute of a principle of holiness, or a supreme love and regard to his Maker cannot be pure; they cannot spring from the right source; nor will any man, without a higher principle than a mere regard to social happiness, ever be able to perform all the moral duties with steadiness and uniformity." 

Those words immediately remind of Jesus' answer to what is the greatest commandment: 

"...The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment."

He continued, "And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

The Lord answered (Mark 12: 29-31; also Matthew 22, Luke 10) as it is written in the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:5), which a scribe or lawyer of the day would have known, "love the Lord thy God." 

The Christian's chief aim is to follow and obey that command, to love the Lord our God fully, with all that we are. We set our eyes firmly on this goal of love for the Lord. His love for His world, as shown in its utmost in the fullness of time in Jesus, the Son, gives all that is good for this world and for its people, who are created by God. All that is good follows from such love. The Source of the spark and the fire of love and life never changes. He is love. 

Also by Noah Webster, The Value of the Bible and excellence of the Christian religion

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Week in Review: Rainbow Union, First Ghoul Award, Quote of the Week

Jean P. Purcell

Week's End
 My post at week's end was a tough one to get right, and I jumped too soon to publish it. However, some readers read around the disorganization and got the point. I corrected the problems. 

This post about history, marriage and rainbow union is in final form: New name for new status of same-gender unions 

Ghoul Award
The report of Planned Parenthood harvesting organs of unborn children earns Planned Parenthood (PP) a Ghoul Award because of the company's continued social and medical ethics violations.
  (Disturbing information on video) I found to be morbidly chilling the the video of a cool PP rep talking over her lunch and red wine about doing abortions with care to preserve organs for body harvesting* - -whether to "crush (the infant body) above or crush (the infant body) below."   

*Ed. Note: Such euphemisms need to be discarded.

Quote of the Week
James Willingham, writing about the Bible: 

"...a process is now beginning to take place which will restore the freedoms, the depth of thought, the wherewithal to deal with the incomprehensible future now rushing upon us, and all because the intellectual book is coming back into view among the people of this land."

Thursday, July 16, 2015

New name for new status of same-gender unions

Jean P. Purcell
Religion, History > Marriage

Marriage is to be held in honor  - Hebrews 13:4

Marriage is a unique term for a unique life union--male and female. In Genesis, the first book of the Tanakh, God revealed a plan to be realized through His creation. It would come through two, the first male and female. They were to become "one flesh" in a true "fit," an intimate biological and social relationship designed and equipped for procreation. This word of God established marriage, original human and biological complementarity, two genders obviously and functionally different.

In the book of Hebrews, thought to have been written about 70 AD, the Greek word pronounced gamos, and equivalent to English word marriage, was used, among earliest references to marriage. Over time, civilizations developed. As tribes and nations (States) formed in the West, there were religious leaders who abused power, affecting multitudes. The "separation of church and state" became a goal so that the Church could not dictate to a nation how or where or if to worship God; and the State could not dictate to the Church about its freedom of religion.

International laws later borrowed from ancient biblical records regarding marriage. However, in time secular States, and their courts, decided to mess with that. Although the word marriage in English was used as early as the 13th century to define the sacred covenant union, wedding, within the Church, the State saw benefits in taking authority over weddings and marriage, and it eventually had to be State-approved or registered. The Church (representing religion) would be required to participate under the State's laws affecting religion. 

The tables were turning.

In 1653, under Oliver Cromwell's leadership (Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, 1654-1658), the State did a remarkable thing: "During the Nominated Assembly or ‘Barebones Parliament’ of 1653, ...the conducting of marriages was taken away from the clergy altogether ..." (History of Parliament - emphasis added).

Marriage union contracts had to be authorized through justices of the peace.

Jump forward 300-plus years to the U.S. in the summer of 2015, where four of the seven justices of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) erased marriage as it was created to be. They ruled to change its foundational identity.

It seemed that four Supreme Court justices thumbed their noses, figuratively speaking, at  sacred texts, covenants, records, history, and tradition. SCOTUS ruled a restructuring and a redefinition of marriage. To many inside and outside the Church, this seemed no less odd than redefining the heart to include the spine, ignoring science; because to include same-gender unions as marriage is to ignore biology.

This monumental event, this claim to remake what marriage is by passing a law, this delusion that what marriage is and how it works on basic levels can be changed...the ruling ignores the obvious: marriage always assumes the physical/biological ability to procreate, due to the obvious male-female physical differences; that always is the case, barring medical problems. (Hence, fierce contraception debates.) To include under marriage those legal unions that, by type, are incapable of procreation within the union is to go outside the meaning and function of marriage.

So here is what should happen now, given that marriage is between male and female:

A new term should be created for now-legal same-gender unions.    

The precedent arose on the summer evening, 2015, of the Supreme Court ruling. In LaFayette Park, across from the White House, same-gender and transgender people celebrated in front of a White House display of full rainbow lighting across the White House facade.

The LBGT community symbol is the rainbow. With the rainbow union victory by four on the Supreme Court, rainbow union gained a legal standing. That standing was what same-gender union proponents and supporters celebrated in front of the rainbow-lit White House the evening of the SCOTUS ruling.  

Marriage is a specifically and distinctly man-woman union. It is not rainbow-identified or -symbolized. Marriage does not disparage singleness; it does not judge the divorced; it does not judge anyone. Marriage is the term theologically and historically for the male-female life covenant.            

Rainbow unions need their own name that distinguishes them from man-woman unions, marriage.  

From Genesis 1: 27, 28: 
   So God created man in his own image...; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it....

Related: Changes in Marriage Law, 19th Century

Comments invited.

Friday, July 03, 2015

If Marriage were the Apple. . .

 My View Today

A few days ago I wrote here about the pendulum swing of public views. In Wait for It. Wait for It. . . I held that change will swing back. I also said that those who want change in different cases will need to work for it with others. I don't expect to see a change in the recent U.S. Supreme Court's majority (though not a complete one) marriage redefinition.

In the U.S. Supreme Court case of Obergefell et al. v. Hodges, Director, Ohio Department of Health et al., Justices Kennedy, Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg, joined Chief Justice Roberts in favor of Obergefell et al., same-gender marriage. Dissenting were Justices Scalia, Alito, and Thomas.

In David Post's column June 29, 2015 in The Washington Post, he discussed problems with the Supreme Court making the decision. He wrote that while pleased with the law's change, he was "considerably less delighted that we arrived there because 5 Justices of the Supreme Court have so decided the matter." That may be the basis of any future court cases.

Fox News anchor Bret Baier asked former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson about his view on the  SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) decision favoring redefinition of marriage. Mr. Olson  stated his agreement with the ruling and said that a legal denial of marriage to anyone of one's choice would be equal to denying equal, unsegregated education.

The two are incomparable. Marriage, from the beginning, has been a male-female covenant blessed by God and a bond of multi-generational families; public education is an institution intended to benefit people alone and in community. Both marriage and education are important, yet they are in no basic way the same in function, purpose, history or meaning.

This is one of the problems with arguments on either side of this issue: mixing apples and oranges in reasoning. Mr. Olson's argument has a problem in that it is based on the proverbial apples and oranges flaw--two unlike things being treated as alike and equal: marriage the apple, education the orange.

Since I first posted this commentary, there has begun an investigation into reports that the largest and wealthiest abortion-providing U.S. organization has been harvesting body parts of unborn children for sale for use...research, organ transplant, other.  To what shall that be compared? With what arguments and comparisons will some in media and medicine deny, explain away, or...wait for it...defend or try to justify what is alleged in this case?

Related reading: New Name for Same-Sex Unions

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Wait for it. Wait for it....

 My View Today

+* The conduct of the republican party in this nomination is a remarkable indication of small intellect, growing smaller. They pass over . . . statesmen and able men, and they take up a fourth rate lecturer, who cannot speak good grammar.  

Ah, the times they are again a-changin' - and for better or worse depending on your beliefs, as the U.S. approaches another presidential election, November 2016.

Recent Supreme Court decisions have disappointed many. The abandonment of centuries of fact and law  about marriage as God created and established it. . . I found to be the most difficult to hear. 

The recent massacre of nine Christians at a historically black church--during a Bible study and prayer meeting--in Charleston, SC, was horrifying news only days earlier. It stirred up the usual reaction to grief, to find a subject to run to, in this cases the racism debate. Yet, my ears rejoiced upon hearing how the church and surviving families, with a judge's help, quickly poured cold water on any spark of revenge and hate: "We are people of faith," they said. Their living faith saved a city, I believe. Ferguson and Baltimore needed such outspoken people of God.  

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) tries to change the meaning of marriage--an insult to beliefs of biblical Christians, Tanakh Jews, moderate Muslims, and others.  The SCOTUS unwillingness to allow unborn human life into the human rights arena is another example. We wait, work, and pray--for it will depend on prayer--for that change which, I believe, will come during or after my earthly lifetime.   

I read somewhere recently that what one generation or flow of generations sees as being good often gets a different reading in later light of day. As this happened in the Dred Scott case, many Americans pray and work for it to happen regarding unborn human life and marriage as it has been defined since the beginning of time and for the good of centuries of civilization. 

The White House was lit up last night in palette colors to reflect the president's approval of the SCOTUS marriage opinion. It was the night after I saw a movie about the White House being gunned, bombed, and claimed by terrorists. I reminded myself after the movie that the White House was almost destroyed by enemy troops in the 19th century.

Things have always changed in exterior displays.  Some have always tried to rewrite history. 

The point here is that such displays are not new: the later-reversed Dred Scott SCOTUS decision to deny rights and full human citizenship; I think, too, of the record of Booker T. Washington, who ignored criticism that he was not "standing up for his people" and continued his work with white citizens for more black employment after slavery; I think of the inspiring perseverance of people in every kind of life-threatening fight, including the Holocaust and the current terrorist attacks spreading--all remind that nothing of earthly decision or pressure goes on forever, whether legal, moral, or anything else. The gullibility of some and the steadfastness of others makes the difference, one way or another.

Historically, Americans are not a despairing people. We may continue to lose our way for a decade, a century, or centuries; yet, eventually God's strength in today's powerless and weak will gain higher ground for all. It never fails.   

Wait for it. . . the tide appears low now, yet the tide always rises. Human thought and feeling are not dead toward defending faith principles and the laws that grew from the Judeo-Christian faith. The more free speech reflecting traditional beliefs is ridiculed, the lesser the distance to change, to reversing for the better.

I will wait for it, and I will urge grandchildren to wait for it. I will encourage them to hold onto their faith in God and a desire to serve and please God. I will encourage them to shun revenge and anger and patiently to speak their beliefs when and where they want to, and to prepare themselves for flashback.   

Another matter in which I hope to influence others is that when I hold my beliefs--by faith in God and how I understand the age-old, scriptural ways--I do not lack compassion for others, although I hold different views. I refuse to fear accusation, dislike, disapproval, or hatred directed at me because of my beliefs. As the interim pastor of the Charleston, SC, church said, "We (Christ-followers) are different." We do not retaliate, and we obey God's requirement to forgive. This does not rule out legal justice in our time, if it will come, or divine justice that will, inevitably, come to all--a humbling truth.     

In my view, the only way to resist the temptation to be afraid when accusations come is to make sure of one's beliefs, why they are so, and to forge ahead, secure in one's principles while holding respect for the life of every other human being and his or her right to hold and express--even as you do--their views. This freedom from fear of verbal or physical retribution is under threat today, if not by law then by inference and the flow of public opinion. 

It is only the strong of faith who will, I believe, withstand the pressures to yield to popular opinions of the day.  It is not too late to seek that strength from God. I am thankful for the Supreme Court justices who, this week, refused to bow to the times, the trends, and the politics before them--to hold steady. They did not lose in the very important arena of honor.

You might be interested in reading: New Name for Same-Gender Marriage
+Publisher of quote at top of this post -- *The New York Herald, referring to Abraham Lincoln's nomination by the Republican National Convention for president (May 19, 1860).

The greatness of Napoleon, Caesar or Washington is only moonlight by the sun of Lincoln. His example is universal and will last thousands of years. . . . He was bigger than his country--bigger than all the Presidents together . . . and as a great character he will live as long as the world lives. --Leo Tolstoy, *The World newspaper, New York, 1909.

*Source for New York Herald and The World quotes: Front matter, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2005.

Monday, June 22, 2015

"We are people of faith." - Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, Reacts

Christian Faith

Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, has been at the front of news since it suffered an attack last Wednesday evening. A group was meeting in fellowship to pray and study the Bible with their pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, also a state senator. A visitor in the group sat with them for one hour before drawing out a gun and killing nine people, including the pastor, and critically wounding others.

In reaction, some, including media, worried that the most common recent reactions to such tragedies--protests growing into violence--would be the case; because the congregation of the church is historically black and the attacker who killed on Wednesday night is white. (Investigation into the shooter's behavior showed evidence of racist motivations.)

However, the remaining church members quickly united in a rare example of faith. Amid their pain and the shocking awareness that evil had entered their church in deadly disguise, they chose to rely upon God. The church has called the slain Christians "the Mother Emanuel Nine."

From USA Today online (with video), the words on  Sunday of interim pastor Rev. Norvel Goff:

"A lot of people expected us to do something strange and to break out in a riot. 
Well, they just don't know us. We are people of faith....

"The blood of the Mother Emmanuel Nine requires us to work until not only justice in this case, but for those who are still living in the margin of life, 
those who are less fortunate than ourselves, that we stay on the battlefield 
until there is no more fight to be fought." 

Our nation hungers and thirsts for righteousness, for cleansed hearts in spiritual revival. Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, shows signs of the spark of revival that through the ages has often ignited from events of persecution.