debating the football

Here comes the game again…  the lights are on… the stage is set… this should be interesting… the game of the night… the game of the month…

 

What will the refs be like?  … silent?  … deferring?  … biased?  Let’s hope not.  Replacement moderators just don’t seem all that effective.

 

Ah, blue for one team — red for the other.  Wait — there’s also some pink in there.  It is still October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  The Intramuralist so appreciates how those on center stage still bring attention to someone other than self.

 

Ok, wait… here come the ground rules…  (Mr. Ref, they don’t listen to the rules; haven’t you noticed?  Haven’t you seen all that fighting at the bottom of the pile — all that scrapping and punching and grappling when the mics aren’t on?)

 

There went the coin flip.  The incumbent will go first.  (Nice posture, by the way, gentlemen… although too many stare downs on the line already… kind of creepy… what are they looking at — each other’s helmet?  … tie?)

 

Hmmm… the teams’ staring continues.  Strategists must have said, “You need to look right at the other team.”  Oooh… strategists must have also said, “Don’t look so mad,” but that one’s a little harder.

 

Keep your game face on!  Intimidate them!  But be sure to look confident and strong.

 

“I am strong,” the sigh seemed to say.

 

(Golly, that pronoun “I” came off a little strong there.)

 

Personal foul!  You can’t say that on television!  The world is watching.

 

Lining up again.  Next play.  Next question.  Here we go.

 

They are fighting… they are actually fighting!  Throw the flag!  Throw the flag!!

 

Ooops… there went the flag.  But once again, of course, the teams disagree on who the foul should be on.  They even disagree on what the foul should be about.

 

Unsportsmanlike conduct!  Yes, the whistle blows again.

 

Yikes, he was offsides there.  (Funny how they always deny it.)

 

Quit grabbing!  That’s holding!!

 

15 more yards… or was that seconds?  It’s hard to discern sometimes.

 

I, me, my, myself.

We hear that a lot in this format.  I’m stunned, in fact, at how much these leaders refer to themselves and their plethora of accomplishments.  Hmmm… I would think leadership equates to a little more humility.

 

Geepers… that sure seemed like an illegal block.  Then again, that can only be employed by the moder- – I mean, referee… that is, if the ref gets too involved.

 

A call for leadership… yes, I like that… responsible, ethical, knowledgeable, transparent, courageous, consistent, non-political…  humble, too… oh, wait… they aren’t that good at that.

 

Ah, invoking the name of those who’ve gone before us — those “Hall of Famers,” so-to-speak.  We can almost see the names on the back of the jerseys… J. Kennedy… R. Reagan… yes… invoke those names; it makes us feel better.  They also employ the names they believe will make us think lesser of the other team — or maybe that they’re a little weaker, less effective somehow…  J. Carter… G. Bush  (p.s. I can’t put of their other choice words in print).

 

Hey, teams, have you made any mistakes?  Can you admit it?  What personal fouls will you acknowledge you committed?

 

Are you kidding?!  We only acknowledge fouls that are visible and proven!

 

And that, my friends, is what’s wrong with Monday Night Football… I mean, the presidential debate… I mean, football…

 

Sometimes it’s hard to tell…

 

Respectfully,

AR

oh! the places you’ll go

(With all due respect to Dr. Seuss, Big Bird, Green Eggs, Ham, the Muppets, etc.)

 

Congratulations!  Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!  You’re off and away!

 

You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.

You’re on your own.  And you know what you know.

And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

 

Oh, yes, we’re off to great places.

As some would argue, “There’s no position that’s greater.”

For you see you’ve been chosen

To be the next debate moderator.

 

You’ll look at the topics.  Look ’em over with care.

About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”

With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,

You’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

 

And you may not find any, you’ll want to go down.

In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town.

 

Like Lehrer and Raddatz and CNN’s Candy,

Each who was slammed for being something less than dandy.

Jim was too silent; Martha deferring;

And Crowley on Libyan ambiguity was for some reason confirming.

 

It’s opener there in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen and frequently do

to people who think they’s so brainy as you.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry.  Don’t stew.

Just go right along.  You’ll start happening, too.

 

But when they talk over their allotted time, as they’ll so obviously do

Please have the guts to tell them to be quiet.  And shoo.

 

Oh, it disturbs me how this system has evolved

Too much money, attack ads — and individual responsibility absolved.

The candidates come in with their pre-determined thoughts

Avoiding the questions, like no always-ethical leader ought.

 

Do they really, truly not comprehend our questions?

Or did their campaign simply have better talking point suggestions?

 

Why do they ramble and talk over time?

Why does no one keep them in line?

 

Yet each partisan camp will declare them the winner

While subtly inferring their opponent is some merciless sinner.

 

Geepers.  Geepers.  Watch out, friend.

To this game of spin there will be no end.

 

Can you believe this election is a bit of a game?

And the partisan camps, they are to blame?

They are divisive and rude — with straight-forward answers too late.

Don’t even get me started on all they exaggerate.

 

Can you believe the winner will our country then direct?

Even though he can’t treat his opponent with respect?

 

But as for this debate, when each finds victory still in doubt,

They’ll shudder and shift…  “It was the moderator!” they’ll shout.

 

OH!

THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!

 

Yes, to some place greater…

Hopefully, hopefully…

If you’re not the moderator.

 

Respectfully… always… with a little tongue in cheek…

AR

nonverbals

Those who have long been loyal royal watchers will remember the photos…

 

Gone was the seemingly innocent, inner joy.  The smile had faded.  So had the warm glances in her one time prince’s direction.  As her public appearances increasingly lacked her infectious smile and persona, Princess Diana’s body language began to communicate what she couldn’t — wouldn’t — or perhaps didn’t want to verbally articulate.  Her nonverbal behavior conveyed something deeper… something more.  It began to tell us that royal as it was, her marriage was in trouble.  What Diana didn’t say told us more than what she actually did.

 

Nonverbal behavior is perhaps in some sense, a language all its own.  It is at times deeper and at times different than anything spoken.  It is at times more powerful and poignant.  Perhaps it’s why a picture is worth a thousand words.  Nonverbal behavior is a picture that either confirms or contradicts our message.

 

Such as…

 

When JFK, Jr. saluted his father as the coffin passed by him.  Then only 3, John John stepped forward, raising his arm, staring intently.

 

What did his nonverbal behavior convey?

 

An honor and love for his dad.

 

Or when…

 

Since December of 1993 — when LeRoy Butler, who scored after a Reggie White fumble recovery and lateral against the then L.A. Raiders — and later popularized by receiver, Robert Brooks — many Green Bay Packers jump into the end zone stands after scoring a touchdown.  The move is affectionately referred to as the “Lambeau Leap.”

 

What does this nonverbal behavior convey?

 

A joy and celebration of the points scored.

 

Or when…

 

The tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square in June of 1989.  As Chinese protestors were being forcibly removed by the Communist government, an anonymous man positioned himself in the middle of the street as the tanks approached.  He stood still directly in the armored vehicles’ path, waving at the tanks with 2 shopping bags.

 

What did his nonverbal behavior convey?

 

A courage and coming in peace.

 

Last week at the vice-presidential debate in Danville, Kentucky, much post-debate commentary on both the news networks and social media centered not around substance — which both candidates significantly offered — but instead on the nonverbal behavior of the current vice president.

 

Granted, for some reason, the U.S. continues to elect vice-presidents who have some extremely prominent quirk (regardless of party affiliation) that makes many question the leader’s actual credibility.  For yes, on this night, VP Joe Biden laughed heartily, repeatedly, and consistently when Rep. Paul Ryan was speaking.  It was odd.  The most unusual aspect from the Intramuralist’s perspective was that Biden laughed out loud and smiled hugely even when the subject was as sobering as people out of work or Iran building a nuclear bomb.

 

What did his nonverbal behavior convey?

 

What couldn’t he, wouldn’t he, or didn’t he want to verbally articulate?  Was his nonverbal communication more powerful and poignant?  Did it confirm or contradict his message?  And I wonder if what Joe Biden didn’t say tells us more than what he actually did.

 

Great questions.  I can’t tell.

 

Respectfully,

AR

throwing trash

Nearing the end of the first playoff game of the 2012 MLB postseason, one of baseball’s historically most controversial calls was made…

 

With 1 out and 2 base runners, the Atlanta Braves were threatening the 3 run lead of the St. Louis Cardinals.  A ball was then hit to short left field, where the shortstop ran backwards quickly to make the catch while the left fielder also sprinted in.  At the last moment, the shortstop backed away, and the ball hit the ground.  No catch.  The crowd went wild!  The bases were now loaded.  Except…

 

Lost in the crowd’s newfound exuberance was that the left field line umpire had called the Texas-league-looking blooper an ‘infield fly,’ meaning the hitter was out and no runners may advance.  The rule exists so that a defensive player doesn’t allow the ball to drop intentionally, in order to catch the runners in a double play.  Hence, after the call, there was little more threatening of the Cardinals’ lead.

 

As said multiple times recently amidst these posts, this is not a sports blog.  We will not be dissecting the perils and pitfalls of the infield fly rule.  Instead, my desire this day is to focus on the crowd’s reaction.  What did they do?  What every disappointed, discouraged, and semi-organized group of people seems to do these days…  as for 19 minutes, play was halted.

 

Bottles and cans went flying on the field.  The crowd went wild once more.

 

People were throwing trash — passionately dispensing their litter all over the field.

 

Here’s today’s zillion dollar question:  when do we ‘throw trash’?

 

When do we dispense litter —  all in the name of passion?  … emotion?

 

After Wednesday night’s presidential candidate debate, we witnessed a lot of trash….

 

“That moderator was terrible… he lied… how dare he pick on Big Bird… the altitude — that’s what caused the problem — that’s why the President looked so incredibly inarticulate…”

 

Yes, when we can’t logic our way out of things, we throw our trash on the field.

 

Watch out, friends, I have bad news for you…

 

When people can’t win on the objective alone, they become emotional; they begin to play dirty; they start throwing trash.

 

After the initial presidential debate — when by all accounts, Gov. Romney soared and Pres. Obama looked lost in thumbing through economic explanation — the Intramuralist sadly predicts, we will be encouraged to throw more trash.  The campaigns are about to start playing dirty.

 

News alert:  if you think that only the Obama campaign will play dirty, you are naive.

 

Also:  if you think that only the Romney campaign will play dirty, you are equally naive.

 

This is the dire state that the American political process has evolved into.  Both the Obama and Romney campaigns will now play dirty.  The President looked terrible on Wednesday.  He looked as if he had little comprehension of economic issues — seemingly articulately lost without without a teleprompter and script; my sense is his campaign will subtly suggest he has little other choice.  The Governor will most likely play equally dirty.  The reality is that dirty, character-smearing politics works.  That’s sad.  It’s sad that the watching public succumbs so easily.

 

Here we go, friends… a month ‘til we vote.  Thank God it will soon be over.  No longer will have to listen to our Facebook friends justify calling one or another any derogatory part of the human anatomy.  I have trouble with that.  It’s disrespectful.  It’s most representative of the name-caller’s own foolishness.  Egad.

 

Watch out.  Just like in Atlanta, self-serving, political operatives will be encouraging us to delay the game… shout profanities… and throw our trash.

 

Respectfully,

AR

your turn

So today is an open invitation…  just like all days, you are free to comment, although today, I want to wholeheartedly encourage you.  This is your opportunity to influence and encourage one another.

 

What issues are driving your vote this November?  What concerns you?

 

My desire this day is to have you write the blog.

 

The ground rules are this:

1.  As always, be respectful.  That means no disparaging terms describing any candidate, person, or people group.

2.  Be brief.  In order to have an interactive discussion that informs and challenges, let’s try not to talk too much, but rather, get to the point.  Sometimes we say more with fewer words.

3.  Be factual and specific.  Too many people base their concern (and their vote) on perspectives beginning with “it seems like” or “I feel.”  The oversight with that approach is that individual experience often trumps truth. I would encourage you as much as possible to be factual and objective, remembering that a subjective approach has significant potential to distort reality.

4.  If sharing any external link, utilize an objective source.  Hence, nothing from MSNBC or rushlimbaugh.com, for example, qualifies as objective.  And…

5.  Be witty.  It’s actually not a ground rule.  I just appreciate wit.

 

Ok, friends, comment.  Drive the discussion.  What issues concern you most this coming election?

 

Respectfully,

AR

sensitivity or respect

It began approximately 35 years ago…

 

A unique, fairly sensational photograph was a winner of the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art’s “Awards in the Visual Arts” competition.  The 1987 photo focuses on  a small cross… with Jesus Christ nailed to the boards.  Christ and the cross are then submerged in the “artist’s” urine.

 

One more detail…  The competition was sponsored in part by American tax dollars, as the National Endowment for the Arts was involved in the funding.

 

Having been since damaged after being exhibited in multiple international museums, the artwork — entitled “Piss Christ” — is returning to Manhattan this coming Thursday.

 

Interesting.

 

Meanwhile, across the globe, Muslim extremists are fighting and protesting and engaging in anti-American, violent behavior.  In Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Libya, Kashmir, Malaysia, Indonesia, Germany, Jordan, Yemen, Sudan… tens of thousands of protestors are burning American flags and effigies of President Obama.  There’s startling video of children in Pakistan, out on the streets, shouting “Death to America!”  The outrage — and extent of the outrage — is troubling indeed.  Some days the possibility of world peace seems so incredibly unattainable and far away.

 

The American government’s response has been fascinating.  They continue to focus on a brief video made by one American.  They have denounced the video that some purported to have spontaneously fueled the protestors’ passion; however, most intelligence now acknowledges that the initial 9/11 Islamic attacks were intentional, planned, and possibly coordinated; the video was not the primary instigator.

 

Our government, no less, has denounced this video.  Pres. Obama and Sec. of State Clinton have even appeared on Pakistani television — paying for commercials that publicly share their stern denouncement; they do not approve.

 

The truth is, the Intramuralist doesn’t care for the video either.  While I will always advocate for a factual analysis of faith — noting what’s inherent in any religion that prompts such erratic, brutal behavior — I will also advocate for a respect for all religions.  Let me be clear; respect is not the same as acceptance as equally good and true.

 

The challenge for me today then is this…

 

Our government has clearly denounced any disrespect for Islam.  Since his early days in office, Pres. Obama has been very supportive and consistent in reaching out to the Islamic world.  America is not at war against Islam.  We are not.  We are at war against terrorism — which in this instance, has been initiated by Islamic fundamentalists.  Pres. Obama has attempted to mend many of the misconceptions within those efforts.

 

Yet in what seems to be a very intentional approach, I remain fascinated…

 

We denounce the video that seemingly disrespects Muslims.  And yet… we are quiet about something labeled as “art,” that defiles the Jewish Messiah in Manhattan.

 

Our government is quiet.

 

I don’t totally get this, truthfully.  I mean, I know there are partisan faithful who talk so loudly on radio and TV that they try to influence the rest of us in this area.  I get kind of tired of hearing them.  (Yes, I often fast.)  But it seems to me there is some sort of added sensitivity of the Muslim world and faith that our government does not freely nor generously extend to other religions…  I don’t understand how our government called the shooting in Ft. Hood by the Muslim man “workplace violence,” but the Sikh temple shooting in Milwaukee by the caucasian man was instantly referred to as “terrorism.”  Aren’t they both terrorism?  Can’t we call them that?

 

What are we afraid of?  Are we afraid of how the extremists will respond?  Are we trying to ignore the violent extremists — and attempting to promote Islam as always peaceful?  And if the government is wrestling with how to truly separate church and state, shouldn’t they be supporting both the Muslim video and the defiling of Jesus Christ in the name of free speech?  … or denouncing both?  Why one and not the other?

 

I don’t understand.  I don’t understand whether this is actually respect or hyper-sensitivity.  I’ve simply observed that the treatment is not the same.

 

Respectfully,

AR

mideast violence

Violence has erupted in the Arab states.  The violence has come from Muslims and is motivated by their angst against America and Americans.  Friends, let’s be honest; this is tough to talk about.  Muslims — both here in America and abroad — are highly suspicious of America’s intentions in the world, and some Americans see every Muslim as a potential terrorist. There are obviously reasons behind both of these perceptions, but this only means that we must work harder at communicating clearly and not allowing perspective to be blinded by passion.  As is Intramuralist principle, we will distinguish between fact vs. fiction and what we know for sure.  Why are the Islamists protesting?

 

Initially some made mention of the Muslims being motivated by a YouTube video.  Noting that the violent behavior began on 911 in multiple places — and that the 13 minute trailer was first posted on July 1st — the notion that the mayhem is solely about the movie minimizes the reality.  A summer of 2012 Pew Research poll found that fewer than 1-in-5 Egyptians, Jordanians, Pakistanis, and Turks possess a favorable view of the United States.  Many Muslims dislike America.  Some call it hate.  Why?

 

Since each of the above governments have significant Islamic leaders — and noting that Muslims have little familiarity with the concept of separation between church and state — we must evaluate the core of Islamic beliefs.  Note that this analysis is similar to the Intramuralist’s previous analysis of Scientology, and it will also be evident in our future dissection of Mormonism (as requested by popular demand).

 

Often argued is that radical Muslims are no different than radical believers of any religion.  With embassy attacks now in multiple Islamic countries, many confidently proclaim that the problem is not Islam, but the religious belief of any type when taken too seriously.  That claim leads us to the question:  is there something inherent in Islam that makes it more likely to resort to violence than other world religions like Christianity or Buddhism?

 

While it’s important to admit that all religions have adherents that are willing to use violence to achieve what they believe are justified ends, it doesn’t follow that all religions teach equally the legitimacy of violent means.  People have committed horrible atrocities in the name of Jesus Christ, from the inquisitions to the slaying of abortionists. However, these actions can’t be justified from the actual teachings of Christ.  Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus teach that one should kill for the sake of the Gospel, the Kingdom of God, or to defend the honor of Jesus himself.

 

What about Islam and the actual teachings of Muhammad?  According to The Oxford History of Islam, from the beginning, Muslims “saw their mission as jihad, or militant effort to combat evil and to spread Muhammad’s message of monotheism and righteousness far and wide.”  Although many argue that jihad primarily refers to a struggle or striving for personal righteousness, a significant number of others proclaim that jihad is an armed struggle against “infidels” — the term utilized for unbelievers.

 

Numerous passages in the Qur’an refer to this violence.  A surah titled “The Spoils of War” states, “O Prophet! Rouse the Believers to the fight. If there are twenty amongst you… they will vanquish two hundred: if a hundred, they will vanquish a thousand of the Unbelievers: for these are a people without understanding.”  Another says, “O ye who believe!  When ye meet the Unbelievers in hostile array, never turn your backs to them…”  It adds that those who do will find themselves in hell, a significant incentive to fight on.

 

So do all Muslims see jihad in the light of conquest and warfare?  My sense is a strong ‘no,’ although many have been seemingly slow to denounce the current violence.  Similar to others professing faith in varied religions, we at times alter our interpretation of the proclaimed holy words for various motives — perhaps because we deeply disagree or it’s incomprehensible or simply because it’s inconvenient.  Truthfully, sometimes my heart hurts for those who do view Islam as a call for peace — especially for American-born Muslims.  I wonder how they must feel with the deep tension between 2 people groups with which they identify.  I wonder how they feel when they are stared at, scorned upon, or treated poorly in this country.  That is also tough to comprehend.

 

Friends, this analysis is by no means complete.  There are aspects and tangents that many will pounce upon to passionately prove their perspective.  Many will still shout that “Islam is a religion of peace!”  I would only respectfully add that such an argument is also incomplete.

 

Hence, I leave you with this…  Nearly every major religion in the world teaches a variation of the Golden Rule:  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Islam does not include this.  Instead, it makes very definite distinctions in the way Muslims are to treat believers and unbelievers.  That fact should not cause us to stare at, scorn upon, nor treat poorly any who are different.  It should instead humble us, teaching us to communicate truth more clearly — and not be blinded by passions that are easier to embrace.

 

Respectfully… always,

AR

free speech… or sensitive?

Is free speech a right?  Can we say whatever we want whenever we want wherever we want?  While some may impulsively answer affirmatively, allow me to suggest we first pause for a moment.  For example, according to the popular paraphrase of the infamous 1919 Supreme Court decision, “shouting fire in a crowded theatre” is illegal, assuming the claim is dangerous and false.

 

But I’m wondering if in this seemingly polarizing, digressing day and age, if the right of free speech whenever and wherever we want is based more on the substance of the speech — and the “speaker of the speech” — as opposed to the purported individual liberty.

 

I think of the desire to squelch some speech — a desire with which I must transparently acknowledge that at times, the Intramuralist will also wrestle…

 

… such as in Sunday’s post, acknowledging that there are those who passionately wish to silence the name and praise and mere mention of God.  Does free speech exist if it includes reference or — dare I suggest — submission to an omniscient deity?  Certainly not in schools.  In government?  In the prayers before Congress each day?  In the Pledge?  I’m wondering, too, about taking God’s name publicly in vain.  Is that free speech — even in school?

 

… I think of the Westboro Baptist Church, a little group of loud people hailing from Topeka, Kansas.  Perhaps you’ve heard of them; they like to protest at military funerals and other sensitive places with very strong, disrespectful anti-gay rhetoric; they’ve continued protesting this week.  Now I’ve met many I respect who sensitively believe that homosexuality is inconsistent with God’s ideal, but I’ve met no one who supports the approach and messaging of this cruel, seemingly merciless church.

 

But back to the dilemma of free speech… is it our right?  … does a cruel, merciless church have the right to say whatever they want, marching outside the memorial of a fallen soldier in front of his or her grief-stricken family?

 

Truthfully, I have a hard time with that one.  So much of me wells up inside, saying, “How dare they!”  The quandary is what speech do we believe should be free.  Insensitivity has thus far not been a prohibitor of the practice.

 

… What about 911? … another date that is deeply emotional for all Americans?  Do people have a right to say whatever they want wherever they want on that day?

 

On Tuesday, in both Egypt and Libya, Islamist groups violently attacked the U.S. embassies.  There are currently unconfirmed reports that the violence was coordinated and intentional.  In Cairo, several scaled the walls, tearing down the American flag, proclaiming “no God but Allah” and alliance with Osama Bin Laden.  In Libya, the American ambassador to the country was tragically killed.

 

The reported reason for the violence was the Muslims’ anger at a single video being produced in the United States that they feel insults the prophet Mohammed.  So question:  why the protest on that particular day?  Were the protestors somehow unaware that it was the anniversary of the Twin Towers fall?

 

Nonetheless, very quickly, before an awareness of injury or death, the American embassy in Egypt actually released this statement in regard to the video:

 

“The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”  [emphasis mine]

 

The U.S. embassy was speaking of the Americans’ abuse of free speech via the video-making, as opposed to addressing the riotous conduct of the protestors.  So again I ask the question:  do we have the right to say whatever we want whenever we want wherever we want?  … and let me add, however we want?

 

It seems each of our support and sensitivity depends most on the subject… and on who’s speaking.

 

Respectfully,

AR

a time to remember

“Quick!  Turn on the TV!”

 

Aware that I rarely turn on the television in the morning, a friend called urgently, knowing I’d want to be watching.  An approximate hour later, witnessing the South Tower fall, the concept of “want to be watching” was furthest from my mind.  Each of us remembers what we thought, felt, and did that fateful day.

 

In anticipation of today’s 11th anniversary, my young son asked me over the weekend if I thought 911 could ever happen again.  “We’ve learned from it, right?”  Great question, he asked.  Some days I wonder what we’ve actually learned.

 

Besides learning we need to allow for a little more time getting through airports, we’ve learned a few things that seem incredibly monumental…

 

… like how when push comes to shove, Americans will work together…

 

(Then again, with push actually coming to shove in each of the succeeding elections, it seems even our leaders only push and shove harder — especially with their language.)

 

… like how it’s important that we refrain from ramping up the rhetoric and utilizing words of war or terror when the situation is not about war or terror…

 

(I heard that once after Arizona’s Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot, although with the so-called, ongoing rhetorical “war on women,” we haven’t exactly learned that yet.)

 

… like how within the radical branches of Islam, there exists a significant people group that desires the destruction of both America and Americans

 

(Oooh… I used to believe that, although it’s fascinating to me that in the Fort Hood shooting — where the murderer was a 39 year old devout Muslim who shouted “Allahu Akbar” — “God is great” — before opening fire — our U.S. Justice Dept. still identifies the incident as “workplace violence” as opposed to “domestic terrorism.”)

 

… like how evil exists on planet Earth…

 

(Not sure we’re good at this one; we don’t like to acknowledge evil… except sometimes, in leaders who seem intelligent but who totally disagree with us…)

 

We’ve learned from it, right?”

 

I’d like to believe that we have.

 

I’d like to believe 911 could never happen again.

 

But I couldn’t look my young son in the eye and answer him as affirmatively as I desired.  I have no wish to damper the hope and confidence of our younger generations going forward.

 

Yet our challenge is obvious…

 

The more time that passes after a traumatic event, the more numb we become to the profound learnings.

 

No wise man wishes for tragedy; but all wise men learn from tragedy.

 

From 911 we learned about the preciousness of life, the beauty of self-sacrifice, the attractiveness of heroism, and the gift of a nation that loves each other well… in how they act and how they think and how they treat one another.

 

The challenge is that the learnings don’t always stick.  We forget what we have learned.

 

“Have we learned from it, son?  Yes.  We have learned much…”

 

But do we remember what we’ve learned?  That is a far better question.

 

Respectfully,

AR

boo

Last week at the Democrats’ national convention, there was a public stir when the delegates voted to amend their party’s platform.

 

Originally crafted omitting any reference to God and recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, former Gov. Ted Strickland (D-OH) moved to have the platform changed and the references included.  Strickland said, “As an ordained United Methodist minister, I am here to attest and affirm that our faith and belief in God is central to the American story, and forms the values we’ve expressed in our party’s platform.”

 

Needing a 2/3 vote, 3 times a vote was taken to include God and Jerusalem.  3 times the majority was audibly ambiguous, with people reacting loudly both ‘for’ and ‘against’ inclusion.  After vote #3, the convention chairman arbitrarily declared the amendment passed, prompting even louder boos in the arena.

 

Consistent with our culture’s unfortunate polarized, partisan nature, immediately many worked to diminish or pounce on the public relations stir.  First came the campaigns; second came the pundits; and third came people like you and me, conveniently hitting “like” and “dislike” on Facebook.

 

To diminish the chaos, some of my more liberal friends claimed the boos were in reaction only to the process.  To pounce, some of my more conservative friends cried that the Democrats hate God.  The Intramuralist suggests that both of these perspectives miss the main point.  This isn’t about Republicans nor Democrats.  This isn’t about party platforms nor how political language should be crafted.  This is about all people… and our individual ability to acknowledge God.

 

Sometimes we have a bit of trouble with that…  acknowledging God’s existence.

 

For some it is very private acknowledgement.  It is something so near and dear to their heart that they believe it is profoundly personal.  I respect that.

 

For others it is a very public acknowledgement.  It is something so near and dear to their heart that they believe the joy must be shared.  I respect that, too.

 

For still others, it is something to never acknowledge.  It is not near nor dear to their heart and thus they believe any reference or reliance on an omniscient, omnipresent Creator by any should be squelched.  That’s more challenging to accept.

 

Yes, I’m struck by the need to squelch — this need by some to put a potential shroud over the truth.  Ever since the beginning of time, people have been able to take a long and thoughtful look at what God has created.  The basic reality of God is plain enough; people have been able to see what their eyes actually couldn’t.  We can see evidence of some eternal power and the mystery of a divine being.  Exactly how and what that looks like is certainly hard to specifically depict.  Yet the mystery should not motivate us to squelch; the mystery should prompt us to search even more.

 

The challenge is that to acknowledge God’s existence, we must in response ask what he wants from us; what does he desire from his so-called kids? … from all of creation?  That’s a tough question to answer; there are multiple angles from which to approach.  Let me also affirm that the question is not something we can dictate for one another.  It is something with which we must individually wrestle.

 

Which is…

 

… why I have total respect for the private acknowledgers…

… why I have total respect for the public proclaimers…

… and why I have trouble with the private and public squelchers.

 

Some of us at times pretend to know it all.  We don’t.  None of us do.  Not you, not me, and certainly not the Intramuralist.  But sometimes I think we’re each a little illiterate when it comes to issues regarding life.  Some of us claim to know God, but yet, we refuse to treat him like God.  We refuse to treat his people and creation well.  We also don’t worship him, and then we trivialize his power and presence, for that way, we never have to wrestle with the question of what he may desire.

 

Yes, we can be an arrogant people.

 

Sometimes each of us — without the public watching — even “boo.”

 

Respectfully,

AR