Archive for May, 2009

Don’t Hate, But Don’t Trust Cops

Sunday 31 May 2009 Leave a comment

Perhaps you’ve seen the infamous video of an OHP Trooper roughing up a Creek Nation EMT. I dare say plenty of Okies are unsurprised. The State of Oklahoma has never been very kind, and hardly respectful, of the Creek Nation. Just a few days before that video was shot, the OHP had confiscated two truck loads of tobacco products headed to the Creek Nation shops. Oklahoma has fought hard to deny the treaties made with the various native tribes since before statehood. This merely echoes federal policies.

We note, first of all, this amounts to a very sinful failure to observe the Covenant of Noah, via unilateral abrogation of treaties between sovereign nations. Treaties amount to covenants sworn before God, and He takes that seriously. Niggling and quibbling around the edges until you eventually take a bite out of the center of the thing is de jure proof of bad faith. Our nation has sinned, and Oklahoma is a major party to that sin.

However, the smaller issue is important for those of us striving to please God. By all accounts, the Trooper is a decent guy, as most OHP officers are. People are people. Whether he was actually a good moral man remains open to debate, but at that moment he had a serious attack of the stupids. If we ignore, for a moment, the very ugly relations between the OHP and the Creek Nation, this whole thing was quite petty. Acting professionally would have meant following the ambulance until the patient was transferred to the hospital, then calmly discussing the alleged infraction. By no means was the radio exchange justified.

It’s possible there are other pertinent facts not yet released. As a former police desk sergeant myself, I would have removed Trooper Martin from duty until superiors could review the case. Such an incident indicates a patrolman needs some time to think it over, and I would not have allowed him on patrol again until I was satisfied the agency would not be further embarrassed by such foolishness. Cameras are everywhere, these days. Ethics means acting professionally as if you were being watched, even when you are sure you aren’t. Morality is a standard yet higher, because it assumes God is always watching. Keeping your temper, even when you have to defend yourself, remains a professional standard in my book.

So we are left now realizing even supposedly good cops can get stupid, and threaten life and safety totally without any justification. You don’t have to hate policemen to realize you can’t trust them at all. They are not necessarily the enemy of the rest of us, but we must never forget the systemic tendency for them to regard us as their enemy. Be relieved when the State does the right thing; never be surprised when it’s agents treat you as less than human. It’s what you should expect.

Lawful Love

Saturday 30 May 2009 2 comments

Jesus said “loving your neighbor” fulfills your obligation to God regarding His Creation (Mark 12:28-34).

The context of the discussion was very much a matter of law and Law. God had revealed His standards in a rather extensive suzerain-vassal treaty with the Nation of Israel, but the point of discussion was whether that could be summed up in simple statements. It could. The most basic requirement was giving God His due respect. The second was a similar respect for your fellow humans. To observe these two principles would easily sum up all the other written revelation from God.

The whole point was to think expansively, not narrowly. Western Civilization, via philosophical assumptions, does a very poor job extending an idea beyond its semantic boundaries. Ancient Near Eastern Civilization tended to use words as symbols of much bigger ideas, ideas hard to express in any human tongue. The point is: People who respect God and His revelation tend to act according to the principle of love. But not according our modern use of the term “love.” We have almost nothing in our cultural matrix to account for the meaning Jesus gave the term.

He would probably accept this definition for love: Seeking the welfare of another person. That is, extending your ego boundaries to include other people, such that you realize their needs are your needs, and vice versa. This is what Jesus meant was lying under the Covenant of Noah, as well. If within your ability to decide how to act (your “will”) you include a reckoning of what is in the best interest of others you touch, you will tend to act lawfully. The whole Old Testament structure of Law and laws regarding your duty to God for His Creation would be satisfied with putting humans first, and giving them all equal weight in deciding what’s good behavior. Thus defined, love is the satisfaction of the law.

That almost everyone fails this is manifestly obvious. That is, no one of us ever really succeeds in keeping this principle at all times. God made plain, speaking as the ultimate Eastern Potentate of All Things, He would accept a certain amount of failure. He offered a vast array of means for restoring us to His good graces, largely based on the concept of apologizing, of confessing it was a mistake. Indeed, it’s pretty much a confession we are worthless at it, but wish we weren’t so powerless to do good. He made it clear it wasn’t a matter of performance, but of desire. This does not repair all the damage we do, but it does keep us in the clear from God’s perspective of active enforcement. That we willingly seek to clean up the mess is on-going proof of our confession we aren’t perfect.

But some of that perfection is well within our reach.

Why do we find ourselves so easily turning to oppressive governments? Why do we not learn the lessons of history generation upon generation? Even if we set aside the very obvious fact certain “powers that be” do their best to prevent us knowing the real story, and when some of us actually get our hands on the real story, we still have a problem with this basic principle of love=law. It’s not just the occasional error here and there, but a false orientation. There will always be bullies seeking an excuse to walk on others, and we will never get rid of them while the world remains fallen. We provide them the perfect excuse when we fail to observe the law of love.

We allow the behavior of bullies to become the target of our anger. That’s okay, because a part of God’s requirements in the Covenant of Noah is any government and laws must be just according to His standards, and there is an implied duty to reject a government which rejects God’s standards. So rising up against the bullies of this world is not a sin in itself, because they can be murderous, and deserve to die for their crimes, as God commanded Noah must happen. The burden of executing that justice falls on the entire human race. Such a high standard is extrapolated into the basic commandments Jesus discussed with that fellow that day. But when we allow that anger to affect how we treat others, we are in danger of our own judgment.

Carrying a gun is not a risk to other people unless you handle your gun poorly. Safe gun handling is a bigger threat to bullies than to anyone else. Refusing to pay taxes is a risk only to bullies. That they do some good things with that money does not excuse confiscation of property for all the other purposes which are unloving. The state apparatus which protects only itself and its prerogatives is evil by definition. But running a stop sign is a risk to everyone. Some actions are not merely defiance of the bullies; they defy the principle of love itself.

The burden upon you and I is to evaluate each day, sometimes every step of the way, whether our actions constitute love. When the demands are competing, we cannot simply favor ourselves willy-nilly, we have to decide what really matters. If we never think about it in the first place, we have already failed to love. Failure to love is a blanket failure of all laws. That means the bullies have won. We have no moral standing to oppose them. If you are going to rise up on moral grounds, on the love=law principle, you have to show some good faith effort to observe it yourself.

Very often, your recalcitrant observation of that principle is itself the ultimate act of rebellion against tyrants.

Repeating First Walk

Thursday 28 May 2009 Leave a comment

Took out my new sign and walked pretty much the same route as this past Monday. However, today I went all the way west on SE 29th Street to Sunnylane, headed north one mile to SE 15th Street, then east to about Air Depot Boulevard. That made for about 12 miles total.

The New Balance shoes worked really well, and the ankle-high nylons prevented any rub blisters. My equipment belt was okay, but I really do need the LCE harness to lift some of the weight off my hips. Also, the second canteen started leaking. My Dad picked it up at a yard sale with some glue on the cap. The glue broke and the cap began sloshing water all over my backside, so I dumped it. I had enough water from the other canteen plus the 20-oz. sport bottle.

I left the house at 7:15 AM, and temperatures were nice at 60°F. The new sign is much easier to carry. However, there was a northwesterly breeze which picked up significantly during the last three miles. I had to keep both hands on the staff to prevent the sign from waving all over the place.

For now, I’m going to shoot for distances between 7 and 10 miles each outing. I’ve covered 29th Street well on this end of town, and most of 15th. Next week I’m going to try Douglas Boulevard and Midwest Boulevard, probably between SE 29th Street and Reno Avenue. Maybe I’ll hit Air Depot if I feel strong enough. I’ll try to arrange transportation to the start point.

Categories: religion Tags: ,

Sign Making for Walking Protests

Wednesday 27 May 2009 Leave a comment

My “REPENT” sign is finished. I plan to take it out for it’s first run tomorrow morning.

Using the four-foot PVC water line (1/2″ diameter) staff from before, I added a “T” junction at the top and horizontal arms to make a total of around 18″ long. The actual signs are cut from a standard poster-board sheet, but I chose the newer foam core version. It’s light and stiff, and glues nicely.

Lettering was cut from colored card stock sheets I found in the computer printer paper section of the store. They offered a package of all black, and one with four different basic colors (red, blue, yellow, green). Using 4″ stencils, I marked off the letters, then cut them from the stock, filling in the gaps from the stencils. The longer message I laid out first, then cut the poster-board sheet down with just enough white border to make it readable — around 1/2″ or more. This left me using just under a half-sheet. I cut the other half to match for size, then laid out the other message. Ordinary white craft glue was sufficient to make the letters stick solid.

Then I added corner patches of white card stock to bear the load of attachment to the pole. On the back of each panel, I added duct tape across the top. The top was drilled to match holes in the PVC pipes, and bolted on with tiny #6 screws with washers on both sides. The white card stock on the panels was to minimize the possibility of tearing or pull-through.

On the bottom, I took the saved scraps from cutting the sheet, and stacked them to make a laminated long block. This was glued between the panels to stabilize the lower corners, then I ran the thin bolts through the blocks. All exposed card stock was given a thin coat of glue to make it semi-water proof. The whole thing is very light and stiff, and should be fairly durable.

The PVC pipe staff flexes a bit in the wind. I cemented a pipe cap on the bottom to make a comfortable grip. Then I added a layer of duct tape for about the bottom 6″ with a section of wire under one wrap. This was placed directly in line with the back face of the sign so I could oriented it without looking up so much. While walking, it’s common for the sign to drift around some, particularly when switching hands. The wire “lump” along the shaft helps me keep it where passing motorists can read it clearly.

I had been wearing a very large fanny pack for lunch, foot patching, sun screen, pamphlets, etc., with a military canteen attached to the belt. However, this pushed the canteen too far around the side, interfering with the natural arm swing when carrying the sign. I replaced it with a military style equipment belt. That allows me to put two canteens on my backside, and a large ammo pouch type bag in front for all the stuff. I typically carry yet more water in a 20-oz. sport bottle, which stays in the opposite hand from the sign. As the summer temperatures rise, I’ll need all that and more if I try to keep moving more than two hours.

Should anything happen to make the sign unusable, I’ll replace it with something simpler. After all the work I did on this one, I realized I probably could have saved some hassle and money using an empty pizza box as the base, covered with the older type of white posterboard. The t-bar top would fit inside, and a small hole cut on one side could accommodate the staff. Maybe next time.

Difficult People: You Can’t Fix That

Wednesday 27 May 2009 Leave a comment

What is the godly, Christian response to devilish people? Change your response to them, because only God can change the person.

While there are many people in my little world who seem to work for Satan, one person in particular afflicts me regularly. I’ll use the otherwise unacceptable grammatical practice of referring to her/him as “they” and “them” to protect the innocent. Yes, there are always innocent people involved, and identifying the guilty serves no good purpose. This is not about other people, but about the one in the mirror. This is about prospering in the fallen world which always includes such people, not about pointing fingers. So the first item is realizing God still loves them and Jesus died on the Cross for them, too.

Perfection is not possible. If it were, your primary responsibility would still be perfecting yourself, first. Only the most damaged personalities seek to make their world perfect by whatever means without first changing themselves. This is precisely the problem we are facing. They are so obsessed with what they want for themselves, it never enters their head to concern themselves in the least over the wants and needs of others. You expect this from kids around 5 or 6 years old; it’s normal at that age. You don’t expect them to stop developing there.

The fundamental error is making of oneself a god. It’s blasphemy as a character trait, demanding to have it their way. The means is often a matter of manipulation, be it subtle or more overt. Lying is supposed to lead you to take a certain course of action; threats are designed to prevent another. They are smart enough to know others don’t want to do what they demand, but internally assume it’s a problem with evil in others.

Here’s where most Christians fail to get it. From the eternal perspective, there is no such thing as objective reality. There is no static standard out there in the cosmos by which all things can be judged. The standard is a living Being, God Himself. We aren’t comfortable with a living and dynamic Truth, because it makes it possible for people to claim anything they like as a reflection of that Truth. The point is, you are not God, and can’t decide that for others. You can’t know Good and Evil as God knows them; that was the mistake in the Garden of Eden. What you can know is what God requires of you.

Dealing with damaged and broken people begins with the person in the mirror. I can’t make this other person do what I want, even with all my training and expertise in Bible, theology and psychology. I can’t say definitively what is evil, only what is painful to me. From that ground, I can then examine the record of Scripture, and human history in light of that record, and say I won’t get involved in things which I see God calling “evil.” So when I say, “Torture is evil,” I’m saying something I know people will tend to agree with, but it’s more important to note I cannot support it. There are some things so utterly consistent in the record of Scripture and history, we can say God condemns it with the certitude of most prophets. But we say it first to ourselves, because we recognize most quickly the evils of others which reflect our own. If we condemn our own desire for torture, domination, control, etc., we are prepared to stand beside God when He rises in judgment on sins we can see from His place.

Yeah, it’s all fuzzy, and we don’t like that. Too bad; it’s reality and truth as God defines it. Dealing with this “them” in my life, I cannot say with absolute certainty they do evil. I won’t pretend my words mean that, nor should anyone else. Such may be the typical assumptions about the English language, but that’s a flaw inherent in our culture. What I am saying is I can’t support it. No more than I should be willing to control them, I won’t allow them to control me.

If you need a practical guideline, let me suggest you use the Transactional Analysis Model. Notice it’s only a model, not the absolute truth of human nature. It does give insight into some of the basic interactions, some of the modes of operation. In that context, they come on to me as child and parent, flickering between the two rapidly. My relative position as authority figure means they usually try to manipulate me into playing parent. There are times it seems I comply because I do take command, but only as an adult protecting things for which I am responsible. As you might expect, they tend to avoid me unless things are going okay for them.

I can’t fix that. I can only strive to keep myself in the channel of God’s grace.

Categories: social sciences Tags: ,

Walk for Repentance: First Run

Monday 25 May 2009 Leave a comment

Left the house this morning at 8 AM. Instead of the fast march pace, I held it to a comfortable 4 MPH (15 minutes/mile). Traveled west on SE 29th Street as far as Sooner Road, then one mile north to the Del City Wal-Mart store. That made it roughly 9 miles. I lost about 15 minutes to check a hot spot on one foot. You learn a lot about a pair of shoes or boots after 5 miles in them. There is no blister, but the shoe presses in at one place. Walking to Wal-Mart included the purpose of getting some better socks and some ankle-high nylon hose. These will cut down on the general friction. After I put my socks back on, the ball of the foot was a wee bit raw from the sock being stretched again.

My sign was made from a half-section of 7/8″ light plastic water conduit. It was top heavy, and one side was hard to read, so I’ll have to re-make that one. I tried to make it reusable with a mounting frame, but that was too much weight. I’ll strip it down in the future. I also made myself a belt clip on which to rest the bottom of the sign, but it turned out to be troublesome in the long run. I learned to simply cup it in one hand or the other and cradle it in my arm. It stayed mostly upright without trouble, with some wobbling. I’ll need to make some sort of handle at the bottom to make it more comfortable.

One fellow driving the opposite direction honked, smiled and waved. Another fellow out checking his roadside mailbox thanked me for doing it, and blessed me. Those were both outside the suburban density area. Once I got past Post Road, traffic began to thicken a bit, speed limits were slower, and I got less direct eye contact. Several police officers waved at me, as patrols were a little thick.

Were it not for the shoe trouble, I could have easily kept going for another hour, maybe more. However, as the summer heat comes on, it may be a lot harder. I won’t know until I try it.

Categories: religion Tags: ,

Putting It to Work

Saturday 23 May 2009 Leave a comment

Lots of changes over the past ten months here in Choctaw. Anyone watching me would have been quite sure I was all noise, with little hard reality behind it. Think what you will, but I was being shaped for something.

I did some walking, then longer walking, then running. But the running was just my pleasure, not my real need. In the end, I went back to walking. Then I reacquainted myself with military style marching, but I couldn’t afford to get the really good boots. So I decided to just put up with jogging shoes and kept on walking. I got up to 5 miles, but realized I was getting a little bored with the same old routes around here.

Then it hit me. God has called me to do something utterly crazy. I’m going to wear t-shirts with strongly worded messages about national repentance. The underlying message is here — which I will print up as copies for a handout. I am also going to make a rather large sign I can carry, calling for America to repent. I’m going to start out hiking up and down the main roads here in East County (Eastern Oklahoma County) and gradually move farther west, then south, then north. I’ll try to build out to walking a half-day at a time. I’m pretty sure I can do a couple of hours at a time, which would make nearly ten miles.

I’m going to start small, where I am, and build outward. I’m not sure how I’ll transport myself to the starting points as they stretch farther from home, but that’s not my concern right now. I’m just going to get started. I am utterly certain if the Lord is really behind this crazy stuff, it will prosper on its own. For now, it will probably be every other day, but I hope to get going daily before too long. Reports of all the sign-carrying walks will appear here.

Categories: religion Tags: ,

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