Monday, August 22, 2011

Humbled

I just finished reading a blog of an almost freshman in College on existentialism, despair, anguish and the individual’s path to becoming an unbeliever or atheist. I have always had a bent towards reading philosophy and science. As a young 20 something I relished in being able to read Hegel, Kierkegaard, Sartre, Nietzsche, Kant and now Hitchings. I can pretend that I really understand everything that I am reading and it makes total sense but I would be lying and attempting to be someone I am not.

What I can enjoy sharing was my journey as a Jesus freak teen and twenty-something and now as a fifty-something. I will always remember one of the brother’s statements that the more he learned and knowledge he acquired the more he realized he didn’t know much of anything. I can remember looking back and truly believing because I had read Knowing God or the God Who is There that I had truly arrived and could dialogue with the best of thinkers. Today there is Starbucks or local coffee shops that give the place and time for reading, blogging and thinking out loud that as a youth I didn’t have.

I also tire of people who pretend to know something and haven’t really read an original material from the author. Just as I am amazed at how an atheist is so quick to claim the Bible is full of holes or __________ but when asked about anything specific it is clear they have never read much or only rely on someone else’s opinion.

What I do so much enjoy in reading my friend’s kid's blog was their honesty about the difficulty of not believing in God. This for some reason caused anguish and despair in the individual’s life. I did my fair share of reading while getting my philosophy degree in college and know that especially in today’s setting it would almost be considered a relief per Hitchings or Dawkings to be freed from having a need for a deity. Yet, there seems to be someone internal that causes us grief to let go of this notion of a high power or more specifically a personal God who created with purpose and meaning.

I totally agree that one of the main faults of most believers is that they put on this fa├žade that they have all of life’s questions figured out so they no longer doubt or questions anything?? I echo this young person’s willingness to share their struggle with the present tension of living with doubt. What if all of the tragedies in the world are happening because God really isn’t good or all-powerful? What if we created God for our own selfish purposes? I took a couple of classes in the 70’s on Process Theology that would see God as a being that is in process who doesn’t have all of the answers. Obviously I struggle with this picture of God because by definition this wouldn’t be God.

As I work daily with real people who struggle to have enough food on the table or a roof over their heads does it matter whether Hitchings book, God is Not Great and Religions Poison Everything is valid? What a person who is half dead needs is physical help then emotional help and during this process of spiritual direction. Is it always the chase that philosophers come out of contexts where they have the luxury to argue about what might be perceived as esoteric topics instead of dumpster diving?

I know that the many wars that I have watched during my life causes me to question whether God exists. I continue to see clips on You Tube about the Tsunami, earthquakes and now Flash Mobs. Does the presence of evil in the world cause me to believe in God or to disbelieve in God? It has been through the study of Theodicy that I have come back to read and reread both the Bible and a variety of authors who attempt to answer the question of what’s really happening. There aren’t any simple answers to resolve the tension inside any of us.

What do we do? Abandon the faith of our fathers/mothers? Invent a totally new way of answering these questions or just quit and give up on life, as we know it? I go back to both the parable of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son as a way of understanding life. I will write and share more later. I have come to appreciate both Henri Nouwen’s writings on the Prodigal along with Tim Keller’s book on the Prodigal God.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Prodigal Cat

I do have some comprehension that when God created the heavens and earth He did choose to create cats. As a child growing up I was raised in a cat hating home. My mom had a strong dislike for cats. It’s not that I was raised to be a dog lover or worshiper but that is who I have become. I do know that God’s majestic creativity is seen in His creation. Yes, cats – gatos are included in this group. So you must understand that I have had cats imposed in my life my house over the last 38 years. I have been willing to provide the means for these felines to exist. Yet, I would still rather be a cat free zone.

We moved a little over a week ago. I knew that moving our dogs wouldn’t be a big deal. We have a similar house with a great backyard. They aren’t going to take off and get lost. Yet, I knew deep down inside that if Nash Cat were let out that she would be gone. It’s a new neighborhood and is too close to South Mountain, which equates to coyotes, wild beasts and the challenge for a declawed cat to survive.

I know that at times I can be insensitive about cats in our household or towards my wife or son. So after being in our new home just a couple of days Anne decided to let Nash out. Our new backyard is very different. There is a very high wall in the back, like 20 feet tall and then large dogs on one side of our yard and yapper dogs on the other side. So I knew that there was a good chance that night would be Nash free.

I was the first one to remind Anne as we are moving and still unpacking that Nash didn’t show up. Then I motivated her and more so my son to get me a pic of Nash so I could make flyers. We needed to look for Nash and not let our new neighbors think we are totally irresponsible.

I had given up hope, I do believe in the power of God, but cats left outside in Arizona summer temps and stray dogs become a statistic. So as I am driving around to pick up our teens for our Tuesday night mentoring I get a call from a neighbor saying he had seen Nash. The gentleman lived just a street above us. I call him back and discover that Nash is still alive. I quickly call Sammy, one of my teens, do ask Kris to drive around and look for the cat. Anne comes home and does a drive around but no cat.

After we finish our typical Tuesday night we are back home and finished cleaning up around 10:30. Anne takes off with some water and food. I truly didn’t expect Anne to come home with Nash Cat. I was shocked along with the peros in our casa. I was shocked that Nash seemed to be ok and clearly had been feed. She drank like a gallon of water but was no worse for wear. How was it possible that Nash could be so close to our home and not find us? I thought cats had perfect sense of directions and smell?

As we got ready for bed I knew my Anne could sleep at last knowing that Nash was safe and sound. The prodigal had been found. The question is whether the prodigal will choose to stay home and not escape. I’m still not thrilled with cats but I am thankful to my God that she came home.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ripped Off?

I know that I have talked a little about crazy things that happen when you live in poorer neighborhoods. I have had seen the heartache and drama that someone can cause by doing something that doesn’t make any sense at all. I can see stealing something if you are going to actually get something out of it. Yet, I continue to see people do acts of violence on persons and property that can only be explained by the fact that mankind is fallen, decides to live life outside of God’s purview and gets his/her jollies out of being mean and cruel.

We have been moving over the last couple of weeks and I knew that there was a risk in leaving our old house unoccupied. We have lived in the same neighborhood for 5 years and personally have not had anyone break in or do any real damage to the house. We have had individuals inside our house steal iPod or iPhones but nothing done against the house.

So as we are finishing dinner and I check my phone and realize that there is a message from my realtor about water spurting out all over the place I am taken back. What? Why? So I quickly get into my truck and disappear and pull up to see my realtor friend Jon in my driveway. The water obviously has been turned off and as we approach the side of the house where the hose bib had been we discovered that this 2-foot piece of copper has been cut out. Who in their right mind would do this knowing they are going to get really wet and then maybe get a few dollars for the copper?

Yes, I went back through the house and made sure that the doors and gates were locked and had sticks in them so as to not make it any easier to do damage. I did buy a lock at Lowes, which I had wanted to do earlier in the day but didn’t get around it. So now everything is locked up and hopefully protected. I took down the realtor sign and made sure the lights are all on at night. I will remove the frig, washer and dryer today.

I know that my Anne is hurting over the disappearance of the cat. I don’t like cats and especially the circumstances that surrounded how we acquired Nash but I do love animals and was upset that my Anne decided to let out the cat. We live in a new neighborhood and I really didn’t want to leave her out especially with large dogs next store. So last night she put out 20 flyers, which hopefully will produce the cat.

The reality is that I know that the guy who took the copper pipe could come back and try to break in and the chances of Nash returning are slim. Yet, the Lord is faithful and does use back stuff at times to remind me to be more responsible but also caring which is a pain but I know needs to be done.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Emergencies

Why is it always the case that emergencies always happen late at night when the last thing you want to do is go off into the dark? Last night after church was no different. It was actually raining and monsooning when I had to go to our new house to make sure the windows were closed. I had to leave a key for the cleaning crew to get our house ready for our move. I took Freckles with me and she seemed to enjoy the wind and the rain. The new house I know was somewhat of a puzzle for her.

Just as I return and we are watching, which I still can’t believe, Mall Cop. The phone rings and someone is in tears because their dog is dying. This wasn’t a surprise because a car had hit the dog a few days ago. I’m not sure why this individual waited until 10:30PM on a Sunday night. There really wasn’t much we could do for the poor little dog. It was infected and had been living underneath a car so it was filthy dirty.

My amazing wife rises to the occasion to make sure this little canine no longer suffers. So she takes off around 10:45 to return home around 1:30. It is always a puzzle to me why this plea for help wasn’t on Saturday in the morning or the day before. After my Anne leaves, yes I stayed home. I had two other texts from teens that had emergencies. One of them sent me a pic of an IV in her arm. She had a severe migraine headache, which required her grandma to take her to the ER. Her brother had hit another teen in the head. As to whether it was an accident or not will be figured out later. All of them came home like 2AM in the morning.

I am glad that God isn’t selfish about his time or schedule. Yet, most of us take little thought on making demands of those around us who usually step up and help regardless of time or day. I did react to a text asking for help digging a grave for this little dog. I did drop off a shovel and pick. The one who was responsible for this tragedy needs to dig the grave to be reminded that all life has value and that we need to be more caring and aware of our pets that are precious gifts from God.

It was an emotional night for many, as they had to take action so their kid or pet would get help. Yes, I have dug many graves in my backyard for our beloved pet friends.