Thankful in all things

November 5, 2008

I am finding that our English language is full of words that start with D that are hard to be thankful for. Even aside from all the words that start with dis- or de- (disease, disaster, depression), there are dirt, darkness, dread, and death. For some people, the list of unpleasant words might include dandruff, diet, draft, or even dentist. Many of us struggle with debt, and some of my (now former) co-workers are dealing with the effects of downsizing. And it’s not easy for any of us to be thankful for difficulty, disappointment, danger, or doubt.

Yet 1 Thessalonians 5:18 instructs us to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” When I was a young Christian, I thought this meant I was supposed to be thankful for all things – I don’t know if this was what pastors and teachers had actually said or just the impression I got. It was somewhat of a relief to learn later that I can be thankful in all circumstances without being thankful for all the bad things that happen.

Not that that makes it easy. There are a lot of people who are very disappointed with the defeat of their candidate in yesterday’s election. My husband predicts “four years of hell that will take us a generation to recover from.” One commenter at WorldMagBlog expects homeschooling to be outlawed, and she and others expect restrictions on speech to whittle away our First Amendment rights.

I hope they are overreacting, but whether they are or not, we are still called to be thankful in our current circumstances. “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24). Ah, there’s a good D word – day! Every day is a new day, full of new opportunities and new blessings. My mother used to have a small placard that said “This is the first day of the rest of your life.” Our worship leader at church often reminds us that “today is a day that’s never been used before.”

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I don’t want to live in a fishbowl

September 2, 2008

A google search on the word “privacy” produces approximately 1,540,000,000 hits. Among the top ten listed, most deal with privacy policies of various organizations. It would seem that the matter of privacy matters a great deal to people – but that it is an increasing elusive aspect of modern life.

A recent column in the Wall Street Journal illustrates the changing attitudes of Americans towards privacy. I have realized for years that my use of debit or credit cards, frequent buyers cards at various businesses, and other programs that record my purchases make it possible for someone to draw fairly accurate conclusions about my interests and preferences. It doesn’t bother me to think that someone could find out what books I read or what movies I watch. (After all, if they want to know they can read my blog!)

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What is the “emerging church”?

August 21, 2008

If I didn’t hang around at WorldontheWeb, I probably wouldn’t even have heard of it, at least not until now. The subject has come up a few times there, sometimes in the context of discussing “church” (such as worship style), but more often in the context of social issues.

I kept thinking, I ought to find out more about that. But I think that about a lot of topics, and find time only to explore a few. (A few months ago it was Islam. Right now I’m reading a book on Eastern Orthodoxy.) From what little I did find out about the emerging church, it because clear that even among those who consider themselves part of the movement (though I read that they prefer to call it a “conversation” rather than a movement), there was not a consensus on what it meant.

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Dueling headlines

July 12, 2008

After reading an article in the Wall Street Journal with the surprising news of environmentalists supporting offshore drilling, I decided to explore the topic further. After all, that would be pretty big news, especially in this season of $4/gallon gasoline. (Though I was one of the fortunate ones who got gas for $2.99/gal yesterday during a 4-hour special sale at the gas station across the street from my workplace.)

What conclusion you draw will probably depend on which headline you read. There is Santa Barbara learns to live with offshore drilling in MarketWatch – which is part of the Wall Street Digital  Network and could be expected to have a pro-business approach. It reports mixed feelings among the residents: “All are wary of spills, but some say it could prove to be a positive in the long run.” The Los Angeles Times, on the other hand, reports that Santa Barbara fumes over McCain drilling plan. Like the WSJ article, it acknowledges (briefly) that recent poll results show support for offshore drilling, but focuses primarily on opposition to it.

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Red, white, blue, and green

June 25, 2008

I don’t generally pay much attention to the election year political conventions, especially as the outcome seems to be a foregone conclusion these days. I don’t know yet whom I will vote for (though yuesterday’s opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal about Obama’s plans for Social Security makes me think perhaps I should vote for McCain just to keep Obama out of the White House), but I doubt either major party’s convention will do much of anything to influence my vote.

I did find yesterday’s article about the Democrats’ plans for “the most sustainable political convention in modern American history” very interesting, however. Sustainable, according to Merriam-Webster, means “of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.” Living in Iowa I have learned something about the measures farmers take to keep from depleting their land. But the sustainability desired by the planners in Denver is much broader, encompassing so many goals that they are finding it difficult to locate products meeting their requirements.

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Democracy, American style

June 16, 2008

Natan Sharansky has written a thought-provoking column about identity and democracy. If he is correct in his observations about different attitudes in Europe compared to the U.S. – especially in regard to Muslims assimilating better here – here is one more reason I am grateful to live in this country. I hope he is also correct that Americans will continue to see democracy and a strong sense of identity as complementary, rather than pitted against each other – regardless of who wins the election in November.

Old America vs New America

June 14, 2008

Peggy Noonan writes an interesting analysis of this year’s presidential campaign. The first several paragraphs are just about difficulties Barack Obama and John McCain have had this week. But then she describes this year’s campaign as a contest between the Old America, represented by McCain, and the New America, represented by Obama.

“In the Old America, love of country was natural. You breathed it in. You either loved it or knew you should.

In the New America, love of country is a decision. It’s one you make after weighing the pros and cons. What you breathe in is skepticism and a heightened appreciation of the global view.

Old America: Tradition is a guide in human affairs. New America: Tradition is a challenge, a barrier, or a lovely antique.”

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