Preacher’s Kid: Honest Faith, Real World

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Happy Reading!

So, after a year of posting Preacher’s Kid, it’s time to say farewell.

I have so appreciated the opportunity to share my occasionally tortured faith, to relive the sweet and bitter and in between insights and experiences of life and the aftermath of being the son of a preacher man.

I have tried to share my own dysfunctional journey, as it were. I’ve tried to share, and to even understand, all these years later, how my faith both thrived because of, and in spite of my upbringing.

And, in pouring out nearly 100 postings to a modest, but devoted readership, I have been in awe and wonder at the miracle that I didn’t go down the same path as other PKs to completely abandoning faith.

Oh, I have seen much — far too much — of the failures, arrogance, hypocrisy and bigotry of my fellow believers, and how they have made the Body of Christ one that limps through this world, beating itself on the head with one hand . . . even while it gamely tries to give love with the other.

And yet, faith abides. Every time I near the point of throwing up my hands and surrendering to skepticism entirely, I witness a simple act of Christian kindness and sacrifice, one done for the love of Jesus and not the acclaim of anyone else. In other words, I see faith in action, and for a moment of crystalline, pure light and love,  I glimpse the tarnished human spirit truly rise to touch the Holy Spirit within.

The potential, you see, is there, if only for a day, an hour, or the heartbeat it takes to smile or embrace. And somehow, that is enough keep faith alive.

Oh, we can be so much more than we are. We cannot give up hope.

So, one more memory from this preacher’s kid. Picture the funeral of an 11-year-old’s beloved Sunday School teacher. Jack Wahus was his name. I last saw Jack alive, barely, in a hospital bed, dying of bone cancer. The prayers for healing had been said, and the answer had been “not this time.” Jack, an I.V. drip barely knocking the edge off the pain,was  telling the little boy to whom he had become a surrogate grandfather not to worry: it was going to be OK, whatever happened.

Behind the never-far away torture in his gray eyes was a sense of acceptance and peace. “It’s all going to be all right,” he grimaced in an attempt to smile.

A week later, his funeral was held. It was a blur of tears for the boy wondering, for not the first time, about the mystery of why good people suffer . . . and yet remembering that Jack was at peace with it all. What a wonder that was; I wanted whatever Jack had that could make such darkness, light.

Then, there was this song. Even today, 40 years later, it touches a tender place in my heart where that little boy still lives:

God be with you till we meet again;
By His counsels guide, uphold you,
With His sheep securely fold you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus’ feet;
Till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
Neath His wings protecting hide you;
Daily manna still provide you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
With the oil of joy anoint you;
Sacred ministries appoint you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
When life’s perils thick confound you;
Put His arms unfailing round you;
God be with you till we meet again.

. . .  May we all find that peace that Jack had.

God be with you.

War on Christmas?

Some insist it’s the “War on Christmas.”

In some places of business, in some schools, in some government offices, saying “Merry Christmas” may bring you a scowl or even a reprimand.

“Happy Holidays” is the politically correct thing to say.

Some of my co-religionists sputter back, “But Jesus is the reason for the season!” and then shout “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” with the same anger and zeal as Lenin’s Marxist mobs shouted “Peace, Bread Land” or “All power to the Soviets!” . . . right before then gunned down the Tsar and his entire family in a basement.

I’m a Christian. So, I say Merry Christmas. If you want to reply “Happy Holidays,” “Good Solstice,” “Happy Hanukkah,” or even “Bah! Humbug!” I don’t care.

But I know that Jesus Christ was more likely to have been born in the spring, when shepherds – those guys mentioned so prominently in Luke’s Nativity account – were in the hills with the newborn lambs. And, I know history tells us that the Roman Catholic Church likely latched upon a number of pagan celebrations of that time when the light ends its retreat and the days begin to grow longer.

The symbolism was perfect for the spreading Christian church. Light. Hope. Rebirth. Community. Charity. 

That fact doesn’t lessen the holiday for me. Squinting one’s eyes shut and sticking fingers in one’s ears to avoid the truth about the holiday’s origins, though, well that takes some of the enjoyment out of it.

Such disputes seems akin to the shepherds and magi getting into a fist fight over the manger.

And none of them were Christians. The shepherds likely were Jewish, the magi perhaps Zoroastrians.

So, we should know better, right? Merry Christmas to all humans of good will, then.

So, let me share something from commenter, author, actor and sage Ben Stein, penned for this holiday season from his unique perspective as an “outsider” who has no trouble with Christmas tradition:

“My confession:

Ben Stein: Christmas, from the outside

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are, Christmas trees.

It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God ? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her ‘How could God let something like this happen?’ (regarding Hurricane Katrina).. Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, ‘I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?’

In light of recent events… terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock’s son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he’s talking about. And we said okay.

Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing yet?

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

Pass it on if you think it has merit.

If not, then just discard it…. no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don’t sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein”

Amen to that.


Democrat, Republican . . . it's all politics

It’s odd what convergences of thought an occur when you see a well-done, live theater production of “A Christmas Carol,” followed by seeing the politicians on CNN, yet again, blaming each other for not doing the most basic work they were elected to do.

I experienced both this week, the first at a delightful community theater-in-the-round; the second when I turned on the news upon arriving home.

The Republicans want a balanced budget and reforms of entitlements, like Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, etc. . . . but won’t restore income tax rates for the richest Americans to the levels they formerly paid. And, in failing to compromise, the Democrats countered, the GOP went to the brink this week of allowing the rest of increasingly poor Americans to end up with a tax hike come the New Year.

Even is reluctantly caving in, though, a two-month reprieve from a tax hike is all we got. Our “lawmakers” get to take the holidays off before returning in 2012 to, I fear, engage in yet another year of political Russian roulette.

The Democrats, themselves unwilling to budge on meaningful reforms to the aforementioned entitlements or, in general, to make real spending cuts across the board, are just as bad. They insist on tax hikes for the rich and more public spending, making their talk of “reform” meaningless in the real world.

If you ask me, they’re both bankrupt – politically, ethically, morally and any other “lly” you can think of.

And Charles Dickens would skewer these career politicos, were he alive today.

I can see him writing these lines for Jacob Marley’s chain-laden ghost, 21st century style:

“Politics and business! Mankind was my political priority, human beings were my business. The common welfare was my platform; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my motivation. The dealings of my party were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my responsibilities to a nation!”

Or, the betrayed and unloved rank and file of Americans, lamenting to the heartless deal makers of Washington and Wall Street:

“It matters little. To you, very little. Another idol has displaced me. . . a golden one. . . . All your other hopes have merged into the hope of being beyond the chance of its sordid reproach. I have seen your nobler aspirations fall off one by one, until the master-passion, Gain, engrosses you. Have I not?”

Scrooge listened; Congress is not

Or perhaps, the Ghost of our own Christmas Present could chastise the power brokers who dare to let their political brinkmanship imperil the already strained resources of working families – and threaten to leave the still-unemployed, by their millions, teetering on homelessness.

“Republicans. Democrats. If you be human beings in heart . . . will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions . . . . Oh God! to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust!”

The third spirit of Dickens’ classic awaits, senators and congressmen.

Be aware that your fate doesn’t find your political careers in an unmourned grave dug for you at the ballot box.

Your integrity, like the bed curtains of an unrepentant Ebenezer Scrooge, have already been stripped and the undertaker of public opinion is measuring you.

Congress? Bah. Humbug.