Archive

Archive for October, 2016

Open Letter to Donald Trump

Dear Mr. Trump – you want to “make America safe again”?
I hear you say this over and over again in your campaign rallies, your interviews and the debates. I cannot comment on the veracity of your statistics or the genuineness of one of your go-to slogans.
Now would be a good time to demonstrate the leadership qualities of humility and to apologize wholeheartedly for your ‘locker room talk.’
You say that you apologized and others have backed you up.
But you have made the classic move that a sexual offender makes when caught for their actions.
You have said…
I’m sorry… if I offended anyone

I’m sorry… but I’m not a perfect person.
I’m sorry… but this doesn’t reflect who I am
I’m sorry… but I’ve done a lot of good
I’m sorry… but there are more important things to look at
I’m sorry… but Bill and Hillary Clinton have done worse.

This is not a sincere apology.

Mr. Trump – it was good and right that you said this in your public apology: “I said it. I was wrong. And I apologize.” You should have started and ended with these words. Maybe you could have offered us how you’ve worked to change your attitudes and words inciting violence against women. Though given the allegations that are popping up, it would be difficult to be honest or genuine. But owning what you did, stating that it was wrong and apologizing without any ifs or buts, would have been a good thing at a time like this.

As soon as you say “if I have offended anyone” – you demonstrate that you don’t really think you’ve done anything wrong. Instead, it is other people’s perceptions that cast you in a bad light, not your own words or actions. As soon as you say “but”, you negate the apology. As soon as you say someone did worse than you, you show that you really don’t know the gravity of your actions. As soon as you focus on how wonderful you really are, you minimize your apology.

So no… Mr. Trump did not offer a sincere apology. And until you make a sincere apology, I do not think you truly care about making America safe again. Until we see fruits of repentance – of a truly changed heart that has learned things along the way – the kind of America you have to offer is sadly the kind of society that so much of us already live in.

Why does this matter so much?

 
I suggest you do some research on how many women and children experience what you diminished and falsely label as “locker room talk”. Take a look into the prevalence of men using words, power, and actions to take advantage of far too many every single day.
 
You say it’s just words.
I don’t believe you.
But suppose for a moment, it’s “just words”.
 
Know that anyone who has experienced sexual assault will not feel safe in your version of America where it’s ok for anyone, let alone a presidential candidate to speak so crassly.
 
To deny it’s lewdness.
 
To diminish it’s effect.
 
It would do you good – if you really want to “make America safe again” to understand the gravity of sexual assault.
 
I know too many people to count who have to live out the reality of being sexually assaulted.
 
I have witnessed how long it takes to recover – if recovery is even possible.
 
I’ve seen the toll on their mental and physical health.
 
I’ve seen how it wreaks havoc in their relationships.
 
I’ve seen how the pain and memories can be all consuming.
 
I’ve seen how one is not the same after they have been assaulted.
 
I’ve seen the cost that victims of what you describe in your “locker room talk” bear.
 
Your words – even if they are “just words” – are not acceptable.
At all.
 
But even more so because you claim to be a leader and worthy of being the president of one of the most powerful countries in our world.
And in case this isn’t sufficient reason, it’s because your campaign is based on making America safe and great again.
 
(Maybe as a primer – watch this short clip by Joe Biden on Sexual Assault https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilOEuIxpfz4)

Petra, The Book of Alternative Services, Scripture and surviving adolescence

IMG_0654

I remember sharing my story with someone  who listened carefully, and then joking asked “With your background, why didn’t you leave and become a Buddhist or something?”

It’s a good question actually. Ultimately, I think God protected my relationship with Him. I had many real and powerful experiences of his presence while growing up, even at a really young age. There were many, many times that I was frustrated that God did not seem to hear my cries for protection and deliverance. But ultimately, He preserved my faith even in the most tumultuous times.

Today, I’ve been reflecting on some of the practices that held me together during some of the roughest times of my life.

Petra, the Christian Rock band of the day, was one of my favourite music groups. I think I owned every cassette and knew every word off by heart. As I’ve been playing their songs today, and realizing that the words of their songs are permanently written on my heart.

Words that would remind me that no matter what this life threw at me, No Weapon Formed Against Us shall prosper.

No weapon formed against us shall prosper

All that arises against us shall fall

I will not fear what the devil might bring me

I am a servant of God

Words that would give me words to pray

First I want to thank you Lord for being who you are

For coming to the rescue of a man who’s drifted far

For calling me to be your son and calling me to serve

Lord, the way you bless my life is more than I deserve

This is my prayer, lifted to you

Knowing you care even more than I do

This is my prayer, lifted in your name

Your will be done – I humbly pray

Let me be the evidence of what your grace can do

To a generation struggling to find themselves in you

May they come to know the love of God

May their eyes be made to see

Give me the opportunity to share the truth that sets them free

And may unity in all things be the banner of your church

And let your fire again begin to burn, begin to burn

And words that challenged me to love, even when love seemed impossible.

Love is patient, love is kind

No lines of envy, true love is blind

Love is humble, it knows no pride

No selfish motive, hidden inside

Love is gentle, makes no demands

Despite all wrong, true love still stands

Love is holy, love is pure

It will last forever, it will endure

Love knows when to let go

Love knows when to say no

Love grows in the light of the Son

And love shows that the Son of Love has come

Love is loyal, it leaves the best

It knows the truth, it stands the test

Love is God sent in His son

Love forgives all we have done

 

There are so many gems from this group – words that carried me in times of struggle and in mountain top experiences. Music speaks to my soul in a way that nothing else can.

I also discovered the daily office in the Book of Alternative Services. Morning and evening prayer provided bookends to my day. In the evening, I would put on some meditative music – usually John Michael Talbot – and light a candle and pray. I would create tunes for the Phos Hilaron (below) and other parts of the liturgy so that I would remember their rich words.

O gracious Light,
pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!

Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.

The practice of the daily office was something that gave me strength. It was during these prayer moments that I was assured that God was with me, even when everything else spoke to the contrary. The liturgy provided words that I could pray even when words were lacking.

The third practice that I have been pondering today is Scripture memory. I was very competitive in Sunday School. I remember learning all the memory verses because our teacher had promised to by us a cassette of our choice from the Christian bookstore. I won – and of course, I choose the latest Petra tape! My homeschooling curriculum also had me memorize parts of Scripture. Some of the verses were memorized without the context – although, I think there are truths in them even if the original meaning was different. Other times I memorized whole chapters. Somehow I developed a love of Scripture very early. Prayer has never come easy, but I love reading and studying Scripture. Memorizing God’s word enabled me to carry it with me when I didn’t have access to my Bible (remember, these were the days before smart phones!). In my mid-twenties, I met a P.O.W. from the Japanese internment camp who shared his testimony with me. He also had a similar experience of having God’s word to comfort him when he did not have a Bible because of committing these verses to heart.

As some readers will know, this has been an interesting time in my life. At the moment, I’m not taking any courses and I do not have consistent work. I have been trying to reflect on the practices (such as listening to soul music, praying the daily office, and memorizing/studying Scripture mentioned above) that sustain me, that empower me, that strengthen me… and (re)incorporate them into my life. As frustrating as this time can be, it is a time of building up, a time of preparation for what comes next. I have been reminded of the rich relationship I had with Christ throughout my teenage years – the powerful presence, the prophetic visions, the joy amidst sorrow, and the knowledge that God loved me. I’ve been reminded of how impossible today felt and yet after prayer, scripture, and music, I managed to get through so much as a teen.Without this, I likely would have given up on Christianity as so many with similar life experiences have.

I think my relationship with Christ has deepened and matured over the years. But I long for that closeness that I knew so well and that carried me through my youth. The palpable presence of God and the engagement of heart, body, mind and soul.