Why I Blog

I’ve been getting together with a friend every Tuesday morning for the past half a year or so. We’re going through our second book together. Having started with “The Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning, we’re finishing up “To Be Told” by Dan Allender. Allender is the president of Mars Hill Graduate School near Seattle, Washington. He is a professional counselor, therapist, speaker, and author and speaks/writes/counsels not only out of his education but out of his own story and experience.

As I come to the end of Allender’s book, I come to realize more of why I choose to blog. Allender shares that we all have a story to tell. While many of those stories have their fair share of victories, joys, and celebrations, many of those stories are also marked with hurt and pain. Part of our responsibility as followers of Christ is to share our stories, to allow others to enter into those stories. In doing so, we allow them to know us more but we also allow them to know that the hurt and pain that they have experienced or will experience was not specific to them. In other words, they aren’t alone in that pain and hurt.

Writing is therapy and I have had to write a lot over the past few years. Out of the brokenness that I have experienced and the pain that I have been through, it felt like an essential part of who I am to write, to do my best to put into words what I have experienced, what I have felt, in order that others might know that their stories are not simply floating out there in space, solitary and alone. Allender even takes a step towards saying that sharing our stories is required of us as Children of God. Our stories are what God has given us and they can be used for the benefit and healing of others. If we fail to share out stories, we fail to be stewards of the gift that we have been given.

I’ll be honest, my story doesn’t often feel like a gift to be shared. The hurt, the pain, it isn’t something that I would have chosen for myself, but at the same time, I can’t let it be wasted, especially when there is a chance that it might connect with someone. In my blogging, I have encountered others whose stories have far outdone my own as far as tragedy is concerned. But it’s not about outdoing one another in pain and suffering, it’s about entering into one another’s story, learning to listen, learning to practice the gift of presence with those who simply need to be heard.

More than once over the past few years, I’ve heard from others who have experienced loss. They have shared with me that the words that I have shared have had the power to capture feelings and emotions that they’ve felt but were never able to fully articulate in words. Those messages have made it all worthwhile to me, even if there are only a handful of them.

It gets very tempting for me to write in order to get more hits on my blog, and I will admit to pandering towards certain topics which I know will generate more interest. But I can also admit that some of the pieces that I have put the most effort into are the very pieces that go seemingly unnoticed, and I have to be okay with that. Quality is important. Quantity? Not so much.

I will keep writing. Writing is as helpful for me as it is for those few that have somehow connected with what I have written. I hope and pray that I am being a good steward of my story and in being a good steward, I hope and pray that my story can be used to help others in the midst of whatever story in which they find themselves.

Labels

I’ve never been a big fan of labels. The more I live of life, the more I begin to despise them. It seems like we always want to do our best to generalize people with labels. We throw labels on people in order to fit them into certain categories. We want to be able to easily identify people and it seems like our attempt at putting labels on people is really just taking the easy way out. Instead of doing the hard work of building relationships, we instead take the label at face value, fit people into a category, and then rely so heavily on the label, justifying our efforts to keep someone at arm’s length. After all, what good would a relationship do at that point? It would just confirm what we already know, wouldn’t it?

Growing up, my dad was fairly outspoken about his convictions (this is probably a huge understatement). My brother and I have albums that he kept of all his Letters to the Editor in our local paper. He wouldn’t hesitate to share his opinions and he was always ready for the inevitable backlash that would come when his convictions were met with opposition. But he was also ready to engage people with whom he disagreed if they would be willing as well.

Among the things that my father got involved with in our community, he would often substitute teach at the only high school in town. In spending time there, he became friends with a number of the faculty, one in particular whose ideology and views were significantly different than his own.

Here was my dad, an Italian, conservative Baptist minister from Brooklyn, New York who always voted Republican and who had become great friends with a Jewish agnostic history professor who always voted Democrat. And with all of those labels that I just mentioned, I’m sure that reading them brought you to your own conclusions about these two men.

I always marveled at this friendship that my dad had with this man. It was so cordial and loving and they probably disagreed on just about everything. I often wondered how their conversations went, wishing to be a fly on the wall of the room where they were situated. I wondered how much I would have learned had I heard their conversations firsthand.

As much as I want to put people into categories, I’m learning more and more every day that this is just taking the easy way out. I’m doing my best to move away from labels and work on relationships. It’s easy to impersonally categorize someone when they are simply a face and a name, but when they are a friend with a face and a name, all of a sudden, they gain a voice that can more easily be heard.

I’m not saying that I’m going to change my mind because of every friend that I have with whom I disagree. I am saying that finding friends with whom I disagree could be one of the greatest things that I can do for my own growth.

Yup, I hate labels and I’m going to do what I can to make sure that they don’t drive me to wrong conclusions, stereotypes, and preconceived notions. How about you?

100 Tough Questions About God and the Bible – A Book Review

100 Tough QuestionsIn his introduction to “100 Tough Questions About God and the Bible,” Stephen Miller comes clean with the assertion that with his book, the reader should not expect him to, “tell you what you think.” He identifies himself as a news journalist, a newspaperman, who digs for answers and seeks to expose truth. His desire in this book is to remain neutral, like Switzerland. How does he do?

I’ll be honest, this was a tough book for me to get through. I am not averse to deep thinking books, I spent time in seminary where deep theological reading was the norm, eventually receiving my degree, but this book was different. It seemed to be a bit unfocused, lacking a real clear target. When we lack a clear target, we will most likely hit what we’re aiming at: nothing.

To attempt to accomplish in 240 pages what Miller seeks out to accomplish is a daunting task. For hundreds of years, scholars have been trying to get to the bottom of some of the most difficult stories within the Bible. Volumes have been written about many of them and many more volumes will continue to be published, no doubt. Even the idea of investigative journalism and the Bible is not a foreign concept since Lee Strobel first published “The Case For Christ” and the subsequent “Case for” series that followed. But having read Strobel’s original work, Miller is not Strobel, not even close.

The 100 chapters within this book are short enough that you can handle them in bite-sized chunks. One can easily tackle a few chapters at a time. In reading through the book, however, it seemed as though it might have served Miller better to have chosen to tackle 50 or even 25 of the tough questions, giving each a more thorough treatment rather than what seemed to have resulted through this book, giving a cursory treatment to 100 tough questions. The expansive nature of so many questions results in some answers which feel more like an afterthought, at best, or an obligation to reach 100, at worst.

There was much information within these pages that was helpful and interesting, but those morsels seemed to be the exception rather than the rule. Many of the answers that Miller posed to these questions seemed more like proverbs, tiny tidbits or information, rather than anything meaty or cohesive enough to provide for any substance. Maybe that was his intent, to cause people to do additional searching on their own in order to find answers. If that’s the case, his work can easily be a launching point into deeper studies.

Miller does a good job of not dictating answers to the questions that are posed, allowing for people to come to their own conclusions, but the brevity of some of the treatments to these answers does not often give consideration to the complexity of the issues that are raised. The questions also seem to be thrown together in a very haphazard manner with no cohesiveness, organization, or structure. Better thought should have been given to organizing the questions in a manner that was a little bit more logical or organized.

The concept that was presented in the title of this book was good, I just wonder if there was not enough though given to how it should play out. In theory and on paper, it could easily have translated to a much more helpful book than what eventually became the end result. As an appetizer for some hard questions and some possible places to search for answers, this book may be helpful, but there are plenty of other books out there that are much better organized, more thorough, and far better written than Miller’s book.

(This review is based upon a copy of this book which was provided free of charge from Bethany House Publishers. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.)

The Trouble with Parachurch Organizations?

Parachurch organizations, according to Wikipedia, are, “Christian faith-based organizations that work outside of and across denominations to engage in social welfare and evangelism, usually independent of church oversight.” Parachurch organizations range in mission, vision, and focus. When they are operating well, parachurch organizations can partner with local churches, joining forces with them to work together. They can encourage and support one another, uniting towards one goal and accomplishing much together. When they are at their worst, parachurch organizations can detract from the mission and ministry of the local church, taking away financial support as well as moving away from a spirit of collaboration, seemingly working in opposition to the local church.

The other day, news broke that Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, one of America’s largest Christian charities, has announced that the organization is now, “allowing gay Christians in legal same-sex marriages to be hired as well as gay Christians who follow their policy of abstinence outside of marriage.” Stearns, in a letter to his employees, stated, “I want to be clear that we have not endorsed same-sex marriage, but we have chosen to defer to the authority of local churches on this issue. We have chosen not to exclude someone from employment at World Vision U.S. on this issue alone.”

This is an incredibly “hot button” issue within the church in America, it has been for years, and I expect that it will be for more years to come. Many within conservative circles of the church have questioned Stearns’ decision for World Vision, some going so far as to say that immediate action should be taken to withdraw financial support from the organization. Others are applauding the move by Stearns, excited at this latest “win” for the LGBT community within the church and most likely expecting that this is just another step towards the eventual full acceptance of same-sex marriage within the church.

I find it interesting that Stearns, in his letter, wrote that this is not an endorsement of same-sex marriage. If this isn’t an endorsement of same-sex marriage in word, it is in action. While he may not be coming right out and saying that World Vision supports same-sex marriage, the actions of the organization are stating just that and it seems that everyone, other than Stearns himself, seems to understand this or at least interprets the actions this way.

And herein lies a prime example of a parachurch organization working in opposition to some within the local church. By making this decision, Stearns and, subsequently, World Vision are not remaining neutral, despite what it seems that he is inferring in his letter. This decision seems to be a statement that World Vision should not be making such specific decisions, deferring instead to the authority of local churches. In deferring to the authority of local churches though, is World Vision not going contrary to that authority if that authority chooses to act in opposition to this latest policy of World Vision?

As I mentioned, this issue continues to divide many within the church. Much has been written about this issue from a biblical and theological standpoint, too much to list here. If the purpose and mission of parachurch organizations like World Vision is to act outside of and across denominational lines in a truly ecumenical fashion, it would seem that this would be the right move for World Vision. After all, the greater Kingdom work that is being done by World Vision is important, isn’t it? Providing clean water and other essentials to people in destitute countries is important? But in making this decision, I think that they are quickly realizing that it is far from a neutral decision. This decision will be just as polarizing, and already has been, as the issue itself has been within the church.

It seems that we are at an impasse within the church, the dividing lines are being drawn, many are choosing sides. A house divided against itself cannot stand. The mission of the church in the world is to make disciples of Christ, teaching them to obey everything that Christ has commanded. Many will say that Jesus never spoke of this issue while others will argue that his specific exclusion of this topic does not mean that he did not address it at all. Regardless of where we fall on this issue, I hope that we can acknowledge that what may appear as neutrality on volatile issues like this can rarely be as neutral as we think. If we are part of parachurch organizations, the decisions that we make, even if they are seemingly neutral will have a ripple effect within the church universal.

I’m still not completely sure what I feel about the decision of Stearns and World Vision. How about you?

Accentuating the Positive

plus signI’ll be the first to admit it, when given the opportunity to discuss the positives and negatives, I might find myself gravitating towards the negatives first.  It’s not that I don’t see the positives, it’s just that, somehow, I’ve been wired in such a way that my “Default” switch always seems to find the places labeled with the “Needs Improvement” sticker on them.

Recently, I was hanging out with a group of friends after a conference.  I was asked my thoughts and takeaways from the conference and immediately I went to my struggles before I could unpack what I liked and appreciated.  Before I could get very far, someone came down hard on me for being so negative.  Funny, I hadn’t seen it that way, it was just the way that I was processing all the information that I had taken in.

As I think about my approach towards assessing situations, I wonder how much of it was a product of conditioning.  In other words, have I gravitated towards focusing on the negative and the “needs improvement” areas because that’s how people have always focused on me?

Over the years, I have had supervisors who have done just that, they have focused on the growth areas rather than commending the strength areas.  I always marveled at the review process for jobs when I would have an hour with my supervisor.  I was a good worker, I got the job done, I met deadlines, yet that hour was very lopsided.  It seemed that maybe 5% of the time was spent on strength areas, areas where I had excelled, and the rest of the time was for all the ways that I needed improvement.

This all came to a head a few years back when I felt that things had been going well only to sit through my review.  I was blindsided by all of my “growth areas” that seemed to have been readily apparent to my supervisor.  How could I have not seen them?  How was it that they were so apparent to him and he felt no need to share them with me until it was time for an annual review?

Since then, I’ve taken the “what am I missing?” approach towards things.  I have surrounded myself with people who can help me see my blindspots.  I call those people my “rearview mirrors,” they help me to see the things that I am unable to see myself.  They help me to constantly assess how I am doing.  They have strong enough relationships with me that allow them to speak honestly and openly, even when it’s uncomfortable.

I have always said that criticism is autobiographical, the things that drive us crazy about other people are usually the things that, if we look hard enough and dig deep enough, we find in ourselves.  I have rarely seen exceptions to this.  There is something within us that triggers a disdain or dislike for someone else.

I am growing, I am working towards accentuating the positive, not only with myself, but with others who I lead.  This includes my children.  If the only thing that they ever hear is that they are missing the mark, that they have a long way to go, what kind of people will they turn out to be?  If the critical eye that has been formed in me is passed on to them, it will just continue from there.  But I don’t want that to happen, I want to break that cycle…….here and now.

It’s a constant process of growth, a journey that we are on.  I am grateful for those who can speak honestly into my life.  It’s a process that some might call “editing” your life.  I have editors that I trust, who know me, who care for me and love me, who have right motives in why they want me to succeed, why they want me to grow and get better.  Unfortunately, there are many people who are much older than me who have never had that privilege, they have never had someone who can speak honestly to them for fear of the offense or hurt that might result from that kind of honesty.

What kind of a person are you?  Do you accentuate the positive?  Do you focus on the negative?  How does that translate to others?  How will it translate to those who you lead and mentor?

Celebrating the Death of a Hater?

fred phelpsFred Phelps is dead.

If you don’t know him, he was the founding pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church, the church most known for picketing military funerals and for carrying signs that spoke of God’s judgment on the United States.  He prided himself in being hated by many and prided himself at proclaiming God’s judgment on the United States.

As an avid reader of the Bible and a follower of Christ, I have to admit, every time I saw a mention of him or his church in the media, my heart sank a little bit.  I always knew that whatever I was going to read was going to make me feel like every relationship that I had ever forged with someone with whom I didn’t agree was being set back by inches, feet, or miles.  I knew that somehow I would be associated with him and his church by simply wearing the label of “Christian,” and I felt that that was a very unfortunate conclusion.

Let’s face it, Christianity is exclusionary.  Most Christians claim that there is no other way to salvation but through Jesus Christ.  Being good isn’t enough.  Following rules isn’t enough.  Salvation comes through the grace of Jesus Christ, it’s not earned, it’s not bought, it’s a gift.  It’s not a matter of getting it right, it’s a matter of realizing that grace has been extended to you and then extending that grace to others so that they too might understand that grace finds you where you are.

For that reason, the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, is offensive.  The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  The Gospel is nothing to be ashamed of either.  As Paul also wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”

I get all that.  I believe all that.  But there are lots of people who don’t believe that.  Trying to convince them of these things is hard enough without starting out by looking down on them, belittling them, condemning them, and straight up judging them.  While the Gospel is exclusive and offensive, it is also a message of grace, of love undeserved, of being met where you are but not being left there.

My approach towards the Gospel is very different than that of Westboro.  Phelps was quoted as saying, “If I had nobody mad at me, what right would I have to claim that I was preaching the Gospel?”  I think that he missed the point though.  If people are mad at you for preaching the Gospel because the Gospel is offensive, that’s one thing, but if they are mad at you for being downright mean, nasty, and hateful, that’s another thing completely.

We’re not called to preach the Gospel with judgment, we’re just called to preach it and let it speak for itself.  We are called to speak the truth IN LOVE.  Truth can often be hard to stomach, if it’s seasoned with love, it can be a little more palatable.  Do we let the Truth speak for itself or do we have to add our own commentary?

For all the hate that Phelps spewed, it’s no wonder that much hate is being spewed at him at the time of his death.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Phelps and Company celebrated when Christopher Hitchens died back in 2011.  Should it be a surprise that those who have been hated on will simply return that hate?

I’m not celebrating Phelps’ death.  I am grieving that a man went into eternity with what seems to have been a skewed understanding of God’s love.  I am grieving that the message of God’s judgment seems to have been more important than the message of God’s love.  Yes, God will judge, but we are not the judges.  We bring the message, we preach the Gospel, we speak the Truth, and what do we do from there?

200

200th postI’ve been here in my new surroundings on WordPress for about 10 1/2 months.  Today is my 200th post.  It took me about 4 years to get to that number with my old blog, so I feel like it’s been a good year (almost).  I’ve been writing as often as I can, taking breaks when necessary.  I’ve been doing my best to write about the things that matter most to me and things that, hopefully, matter to other people as well.

I’m looking forward to celebrating more milestones along the way.  Thanks for following me, for reading what I write, and for taking the time to enter my world through words.  Keep reading, I’ll keep writing.

Let Your Yes Be Yes

Like what seems to be half of the country (at least) my family was waiting for our copy of the latest Disney animated movie to arrive at our house today.  Having pre-ordered it, we had been guaranteed that it would arrive at our house on the release date.  In fact, one of the reasons that I had ordered online was that I was guaranteed a delivery date of the release date.

My five year old was counting down the days by the end of last week.  Every day, he would ask how many more days it was until we would get our movie.  The excitement was building and when the day finally arrived, he would run to the door any time he thought he heard a truck pass by.  Dinner time came and still no package.  I had to run off to a rehearsal, and the package was still not there.  Finally, during my rehearsal, I got a text from my wife telling me that I had a heartbroken boy at home because the movie had not arrived.

I was determined to do something at that point.  When I finally arrived home, I looked through my emails from the online retailer to find that the confirmation email that I had received for the order said that I had a “Guaranteed Delivery Date.”  Well, that seemed odd to me.  Usually, when something is guaranteed, there is something to back it up.  With technology being as it is today, I decided to chat with someone from the retailer online.

After getting nowhere with the initial representative, I asked for a supervisor.  I was not getting the answers that I was looking for.  In fact, I asked the representative multiple times why this retailer would send out an email with a “Guaranteed Delivery Date” listed and then not fulfill that guarantee.  Instead, I continued to get excuses as to why the package hadn’t arrived.

Now, before you accuse me of being a completely arrogant and spoiled brat, let me explain my real issue.  It wasn’t so much that the package hadn’t come, packages come late all the time.  My frustration was that I had ordered something with a “guarantee” on it and that guarantee was not fulfilled.

I spoke with the supervisor and got the satisfaction that I was looking for and politely offered to her the advice that they might consider rewording their emails with the phrase “Estimated” rather than “Guaranteed.”  Say what you mean, mean what you say.  Don’t make promises you can’t keep.  Let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no.”

In fact, in the Book of James in the Bible, the writer uses that last phrase.  In James 5:12, the Message paraphrase puts it like this, “And since you know that he cares, let your language show it. Don’t add words like “I swear to God” to your own words. Don’t show your impatience by concocting oaths to hurry up God. Just say yes or no. Just say what is true. That way, your language can’t be used against you.”  Say what you mean, mean what you say.

It’s a valuable lesson for me to learn.  Do I make promises that I can’t keep?  Worse than that, do I make promises that I have no intention of keeping?  Do I make unreasonable promises?  Words are powerful tools and our words tell a lot about us.  If we flippantly make promises that we can’t keep, what will happen to our reputation, our sense of integrity?  Will people be able to trust what we say if we consistently make promises that are never fulfilled?

I strive to be a man of my word, but I need to be kept in check.  I need people around me to hold me accountable, making sure that I really am who I think that I am and say that I am.  This online retailer came through for me with compensation for their broken guarantee.  I wonder how many times I come through for people when I don’t keep my word.  Sometimes, all it takes is an acknowledgement that we dropped the ball, and that’s enough.  I would have been satisfied with less than what this retailer had given me but I did feel it was important for them to clarify their words in the future.

Take that to heart.  How do you use your words?  What kind of promises do you make?  How well do you keep those promises?  This whole thing gives me cause to stop and think the next time that I am making a promise to someone.  Is my word my bond or am I just filling the air with empty promises?

“I Just Can’t Do It, Captain!”

mister scottI was never a die-hard Trekkie (Star Trek fan, for those of you scratching your heads).  I watched the original series in reruns because my brother forced me to watch it.  I halfheartedly got into the first set of movies, kind of steered away from the Next Generation movies, and was pleasantly surprised at the reboot by J.J. Abrams of “Lost” fame.  All that being said, I know enough about the series, the characters, and the plotline to be dangerous.

It seemed to be a regular occurrence on the original show when Mister Scott, the chief engineer on the Enterprise, would be asked to do something crucial that he would exclaim to Captain Kirk, “I just can’t do it, Captain.”  Despite his reluctance and insistence against the possibility, it always seemed that Kirk could convince him otherwise, which was kind of disturbing to me.  I guess, when you find a good plot formula, you stick with it and rarely look back.

But life is not an episode of Star Trek.

I took a detour from my 2014 reading list (which I am sadly behind on following) to read a book that had been on my Amazon wishlist for a while.  I regularly check my wishlist to see what items have dropped in price and I noticed that this book, which had been there for a while, was being offered for free on Kindle.  Never one to pass up a good deal, especially for something that I had wanted for a while, I purchased (do you really purchase it if it’s free) and dove in.

The book was entitled, “Delirious: My Journey with the Band, a Growing Family, and an Army of Historymakers” written by Martin Smith, the lead singer of the Christian band, Delirious.  I had been introduced to their music not too long after I came out of college and when I began to lead worship on a regular basis, so I was very anxious to read his insights about his own experience as he journeyed through his own adventure.

As I read through the book, I was captivated and couldn’t put it down.  Not sure that there was one thing that grabbed me other than the fact that I felt like he was very real in his description of his own experience and adventure.  While much of it seemed fairly whitewashed, I appreciated that he was being honest about some of the struggles that he had along the way.

One particular quote stood out to me.  After seeing some of the devastation after the earthquake in Haiti and also experiencing the death of a friend from church, he said, “I just didn’t have the emotional capacity to fully engage with both.”  The statement seemed so innocent and yet raw.  In those few words, he seemed to capture something that I have experienced multiple times over the past few years, the lack of emotional capacity to fully engage.

It’s happened with pastoral visits.  It’s happened with phone calls.  It’s happened in leading worship.  It’s even happened when spending time with my family.  There have been times when I just felt that I had no more to give, that I had exhausted the well, that I was empty.

When emotional energy is expended, it’s not as simple of a task to recharge as it is when physical energy is expended.  Physically expended, one can sleep or eat and gain some energy to push on.  Emotionally expended, the task is not quite as simple.  Emotional exhaustion can result in fitful sleep, loss of appetite, and just an overall sense of being worn out.

Not too long ago, a friend of mine gave me a charge when I was officially installed as a pastor at my church.  As he talked through life and all of the bumps along the way, he said that we can consider our lives like buckets with holes in them.  We all leak.  We all expend energy.  The trick is to fill faster than you leak.  That simple statement was so profound that it stuck with me and just about every other person that heard it that day.

Fill faster than you leak, and that’s just what I am trying to do.  I have learned that in those moments when emotional capacity seems lost, saying “no” is more important than ever.  If it means letting a phone call go to voicemail, answering an email later on, or asking someone for a little alone time, those choices can be crucial for recharging and gaining more emotional capacity again.

Personal limitations are important things to understand and acknowledge.  None of us are superheroes, and the sooner that we realize that, the better off we, and all those around us, will be.  When we continue to try to press on with empty tanks, we will burn out.  Learning that it’s okay to say, “I just can’t do it” is an important lesson.

Let’s face it, things don’t seem to slow down much, and they certainly don’t slow down just because we are experiencing a heavier load than usual.  But others are around us, they are ready and willing to help, they are understanding (well, most of them are) and they can get over the disappointment that they might experience with our initial refusal.  If someone is unwilling to understand our own need for recharge, we might want to press them on it, asking them whether they ever need time for recharge themselves.  If they say that they don’t need that time, we’re well on our way to understanding why they press so hard.  Hopefully, that will be further encouragement for us to enforce those breakaway times to fill our own buckets.

A Chance to Learn

Writers, no matter who they are, will find themselves scrapping things that they write.  My computer is littered with many posts that never quite made it onto my blog, for some reason or another.  It may have been that my timing was off and it just wasn’t the right time to post something.  Or it could have been that the topic was too controversial and I wasn’t sure that I was ready to dive into the possible misunderstandings that would inevitably result from people reading their own preconceived notions into my writing.  It also could have been that I just haven’t felt that what I have written is on par with other things that I have written.  All this to say that my “Draft” folder continues to get larger as time goes by.

I began a post for today in light of it being St. Patrick’s Day, but I scrapped it.  I have been reading articles in the media about the withdrawal of support and sponsorship of certain companies for the St. Patrick’s Day parade because of issues with the LGBT community.  The LGBT community is not allowed to “march openly” in the parade and so, some companies have decided to withdraw their support for the event.  The presumption is that by not being allowed to “march openly” the rights of the LGBT community are being infringed upon and the organizers of the parade are showing a lack of support for this community.

As I began to spin my own thoughts and opinions on this, I realized that I was having a hard time understanding what the phrase “march openly” means.  While I may think I understand what it means, I can’t presume that I can read the mind of everyone who holds an opinion.  I fear that I might be missing something because of my own perceptions and biases.  So, I would love to hear from others on what they think this phrase means.  In hearing the opinions of others, my hope is to be enlightened myself.  This is an experiment in sharing opinions and I also don’t presume that everyone will share openly in the comment space.  If you don’t feel comfortable posting in the comment space, feel free to send an email to coarpk@gmail.com.

I’ve got a lot to learn, to think otherwise is pure ignorance.  I hope that hearing from people might help me in that process of learning and growing.  If I hear from enough people, I hope to do a follow up post to share what I have learned through all of the insight.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.