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Archive for the ‘temper’ Category

2014-04-27 12.39.51

Sitting here getting ready to do lesson plans for the week before I go play for a funeral.  It’s pouring rain and intermittently thundering, so I’ve unplugged my computer.  I woke up feeling like a truck ran over me — about how I’ve felt every morning for the last two weeks.  I am very tired of being sick.

I laid in bed listening to the rain (I didn’t have to play for church this morning, fortunately) and trying to go back to sleep.  I finally got up and proceeded to bite my husband’s head off when he asked what time the funeral was today.  I apologized soon after, but I’m still feeling sad about it — maybe more guilty because of what he did later.

I apologized while we were eating breakfast and got a hug and a kiss.  After I showered I was feeling more human (don’t you just wish you could stay in the shower when you’re sick?) and I was sitting at my computer trying to start my lesson plans (no, not done yet) and felt a blanket settle around my shoulders. My husband set a lighted candle on my desk and kept pottering around at his desk.  I asked him why he was being nice to me since I’d snapped at him.

He said, “Because I know you’re trying to be good but you don’t feel good.”

Another hug and a kiss on my unhappy head, and he kept doing his thing.  I went to make tea and saw my new cup I got yesterday at the (in)RLMN meetup.

2014-04-27 12.50.47

“Created to be lovely”.

I initially picked that cup because I usually feel anything but lovely.  Except when my husband tells me so.  And then I realized I’d been anything but lovely to him.  He’s got his own set of stress and isn’t feeling top-notch either, but I’d been whining around about how bad I felt and biting him (metaphorically), and hadn’t even asked how he was feeling this morning.

So I’m drinking tea out of this cup and hoping I can ingest a little loveliness of spirit along with the jasmine white…

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It seems like someone is conspiring to make me realize how selfish I am.  A blog I subscribe to, Becoming Minimalist, recently had a post I wanted to reblog, called The Antidote to Selfishness is You.  I’m including it below, with my comments.

“Selfishness is that detestable vice which no one will forgive in others, and no one is without himself.” – Henry Ward Beecher

We live in a world of unquenchable greed and selfishness. We see it all around us. And often lament its existence:

  • We lash out against the greed of politicians.
  • We despise the self-serving culture of corporate greed.
  • We argue against those who spend massive resources pushing their agenda.
  • We protest the selfish motives of many wars and ruling parties.
  • We cry out against the injustice of unnecessary poverty and hunger.

With little or no effort, we recognize the ugly effects of greed and selfishness on our society, culture, and nations. The greed of others makes this world a less pleasurable place to live for all of us. We wish they would change for the sake of everyone. In some cases, we even unify and protest to pressure them to change.

All the while, our personal greed rarely goes challenged. Recognizing the negative effects of corporate selfishness is easy. But identifying our own selfish motivation is more difficult to accomplish. It is, after all, far more painful to discover and admit.

As a result, we rarely recognize how selfishness within us is…

  • contributing to the feelings of jealousy we experience.
  • causing strife in our relationships with others.
  • negatively impacting our relationship with our spouse.
  • motivating so many of the unhealthy decisions we make with our money.
  • preventing us from meeting the apparent needs of others.
  • keeping us from experiencing love, joy, hope, gratitude, generosity.
  • hindering us from finding true contentment.

It is healthy and wise to recognize the greed of our society in which we live. We need voices speaking out against it… loudly. And history will continue to recognize and praise the heroes who took a stand against it. May each of us be bold as we champion society’s selfless pursuits.

But as we do, may we begin in our own hearts. May we never neglect the pursuit of removing selfishness from our own affections. May we strive to consider not only our own interests, but also the interests of others. May we routinely place ourselves in the plight of others. And may we seek to meet their needs with the same effort we seek to meet our own.

The antidote for selfishness is you. And the battle has to begin there.

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It’s very easy to condemn selfishness in others, and very hard to battle it in oneself.  As if that post weren’t enough (it probably wasn’t, obviously), last night my chapter in the book I’m reading, Daughters of God, was about self-centeredness.  Here are some of the quotes I found especially striking:

You must have things your own way, and unless you do, you are perfectly miserable…you have…but little self-control and do not exercise the strong will you possess to hold in control your own thoughts and your own feelings…you cannot enjoy wholeness of character, which is true sanctification, unless you steadily and earnestly discipline yourself…Get your mind off yourself; be uncomplaining; be cheerful…I entreat of you to hide in Jesus, to be His own true child, walking in love and and obedience to all His requirements, exemplifying in your life the character of Jesus — tender and thoughtful of others, considering them just as good and just as deserving as yourself of conveniences and comforts and happiness…You will never perfect Christian character until you think less of self and have a better opinion of others…Religion ever imparts power to its possessor to restrain, control, and balance the character and intellect and emotions…Every act of ours has its influence on others, therefore every thought and every motive is to be under the control of the Spirit of God…Self is to be crucified, not now and then, but daily, and the physical, mental, and spiritual must be subordinate to the will of God…All the peculiarities given us as an inheritance or acquired by indulgence or through erroneous education must be thoroughly overcome, decidedly resisted…The religion of Christ will bind and restrain every unholy pasison, will stimulate to energy, to self-discipline and industry even in the matters of homely, everyday life…Jesus wants you to be happy, but you cannot be happy in having your own way and following the impulse of your own heart. 

–Ellen G.  White, Daughters of God, pp.165-170

And to bring it home, I had just read the above selection for my daily devotions and then got angry at something and took it out on Kent.  It in no way was his fault, and I was petty and mean, and he called me on it.  I spent the day feeling really bad about myself and asking him to forgive me every time I thought of it (which was often).  You would think I would have been able to think of the reading and do better — the worst part was that I did think of it, and thought that I shouldn’t take it out on Kent, and then I did anyway.  I feel like a really horrible person.  I suppose deep down, we all are — the “rats in the cellar” thing from C.S. Lewis — but I guess I usually feel pretty good about myself.  I will have to spend a lot of time praying for help to control my temper and my habit of lashing out verbally.

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Thou shalt not kill.

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All acts of injustice that tend to shorten life; the spirit of hatred and revenge, or the indulgence of any passion that leads to injurious acts toward others, or causes us even to wish them harm (for “whoso hateth his brother is a murderer”); a selfish neglect of caring for the needy or suffering; all self-indulgence or unnecessary deprivation or excessive labor that tends to injure health — all these are, to a greater or less degree violations of the sixth commandment.

Some sacrifice physical and moral obligations, thinking to find happiness, and they lose both soul and body.  Others will seek their happiness in indulgence of an unnatural appetite, and consider the indulgence of taste more desirable than health and life.  Many suffer themselves to be enchained by sensual passions, and will sacrifice physical strength, intellect, and moral powers, to the gratification of lust.  They will bring themselves to untimely graves, and in the Judgment will be charged with self-murder.

The spirit of hatred and revenge originated with Satan; and it led him to put to death the Son of God.  Whoever cherishes malice or unkindness is cherishing the same spirit; and its fruit will be unto death.  In the revengeful thought the evil deed lies enfolded, as the plant in the seed.

The law of God takes note of the jealousy, envy, hatred, malignity, revenge, lust, and ambition that surge through the soul, but have not found expression in outward action, because the opportunity, not the will, has been wanting.  And these sinful emotions will be brought into the account in the day when “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing.”

Christ is righteousness, sanctification, and redemption to those who believe in Him…He set before us a perfect example of holy obedience to God’s law.

–Ellen G. White, Sons and Daughters of God

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Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain;

for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

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The reason for this command is given: we are not to swear “by the heaven, for it is the throne of God; nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.  Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, for thou canst not make one hair white or black.”  All things come of God.  We have nothing that we have not received; and, more than this, we have nothing that has not been purchased for us by the blood of Christ.

Burning words of passion should never be spoken, for in the sight of God and holy angels they are as a species of swearing.

This commandment not only prohibits false oaths and common swearing, but it forbids us to use the name of God in a light or careless manner, without regard to its awful significance.  By the the thoughtless mention of God in common conversation, by appeals to Him in trivial matters, and by the frequent and thoughtless repetition of His name, we dishonor Him.  “Holy and reverend is his name.”  All should meditate upon His majesty, His purity and holiness, that the heart may be impressed with a sense of His exalted character; and His holy name should be uttered with reverence and solemnity.

It is not men whom we are to exalt and worship; it is God, the only true and living God, to whom our worship and reverence are due.  According to the teaching of the Scriptures, it dishonors God to address ministers as “reverend.”  No mortal has any right to attach this to his own name, or to the name of any other human being.  It belongs only to God, to distinguish Him from every other being…”Holy and reverend is His name.”  We dishonor God when we use this word where it does not belong…The Father and the Son alone are to be exalted.

–Ellen G. White, Sons and Daughters of God

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At least not now in Bangkok.  Evidently protesters in red shirts, fueled (however unofficially) by ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra (whose nephew I taught in kindergarten), have begun to be forcibly suppressed.  The rioters have been blockading streets, storming government buildings, and generally creating a war zone in downtown Bangkok.  The Army used tear gas and rubber bullets to subdue the crowd, but some of the protesters had assault rifles and Molotov cocktails.  Expats living in Bangkok have been told to be careful where they go downtown, and those who had planned on traveling to Thailand have been advised to change their plans.

This is a continuation of a problem from 2006, when then-prime minister Thaksin was ousted during a coup after he tried and succeeded (multiple times) to buy the election.  At that time, martial law was instituted for a short while, and the King told people basically to stop fooling around or he would not allow the elections to continue.

Unfortunately, Thaksin doesn’t appreciate not being in power anymore, and he has funded protests.  Now that rioters have been running rampant in the streets for several days, Thaksin is trying to make big promises so they will put him back in power.  He even called for a revolution at one point.

I’m glad I’m not in Bangkok right now, but I feel sad for my friends who are afraid there, who can’t be guaranteed a fair government, even with a King they love very much.  I wish people would just do what Jesus said, and then things like this wouldn’t happen.

Edited to add: Here’s an update on the latest violence.  It doesn’t look to be calming, but rather escalating as time goes on.  More people are getting killed, and the blockade is expanding closer to our old stomping grounds.

Edited a second time: The Red Shirts have torched 27 buildings in Bangkok, including the Central World Plaza shopping center (and the area around Siam Paragon), mostly concentrating on government buildings and banks.  Some say that the government allowed the situation to escalate to this level, since they didn’t move decisively to stop the rioters in the beginning.

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This post reprinted courtesy of Sara and Brian Brandsmeier of Ephphatha Poetry, from today’s blog.

Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure – the ones who are driving the action – we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.

So let’s begin.

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.

Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, were surrounded by thousands of angry black people, one of whom proceeded to spit on one of those congressmen for not voting the way the black demonstrators desired. Would the protesters be seen as merely patriotic Americans voicing their opinions, or as an angry, potentially violent, and even insurrectionary mob? After all, this is what white Tea Party protesters did recently in Washington.

Imagine that a rap artist were to say, in reference to a white president: “He’s a piece of shit and I told him to suck on my machine gun.” Because that’s what rocker Ted Nugent said recently about President Obama.

Imagine that a prominent mainstream black political commentator had long employed an overt bigot as Executive Director of his organization, and that this bigot regularly participated in black separatist conferences, and once assaulted a white person while calling them by a racial slur. When that prominent black commentator and his sister — who also works for the organization — defended the bigot as a good guy who was misunderstood and “going through a tough time in his life” would anyone accept their excuse-making? Would that commentator still have a place on a mainstream network? Because that’s what happened in the real world, when Pat Buchanan employed as Executive Director of his group, America’s Cause, a blatant racist who did all these things, or at least their white equivalents: attending white separatist conferences and attacking a black woman while calling her the n-word.

Imagine that a black radio host were to suggest that the only way to get promoted in the administration of a white president is by “hating black people,” or that a prominent white person had only endorsed a white presidential candidate as an act of racial bonding, or blamed a white president for a fight on a school bus in which a black kid was jumped by two white kids, or said that he wouldn’t want to kill all conservatives, but rather, would like to leave just enough—“living fossils” as he called them—“so we will never forget what these people stood for.” After all, these are things that Rush Limbaugh has said, about Barack Obama’s administration, Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama, a fight on a school bus in Belleville, Illinois in which two black kids beat up a white kid, and about liberals, generally.

Imagine that a black pastor, formerly a member of the U.S. military, were to declare, as part of his opposition to a white president’s policies, that he was ready to “suit up, get my gun, go to Washington, and do what they trained me to do.” This is, after all, what Pastor Stan Craig said recently at a Tea Party rally in Greenville, South Carolina.

Imagine a black radio talk show host gleefully predicting a revolution by people of color if the government continues to be dominated by the rich white men who have been “destroying” the country, or if said radio personality were to call Christians or Jews non-humans, or say that when it came to conservatives, the best solution would be to “hang ‘em high.” And what would happen to any congressional representative who praised that commentator for “speaking common sense” and likened his hate talk to “American values?” After all, those are among the things said by radio host and best-selling author Michael Savage, predicting white revolution in the face of multiculturalism, or said by Savage about Muslims and liberals, respectively. And it was Congressman Culbertson, from Texas, who praised Savage in that way, despite his hateful rhetoric.

Imagine a black political commentator suggesting that the only thing the guy who flew his plane into the Austin, Texas IRS building did wrong was not blowing up Fox News instead. This is, after all, what Anne Coulter said about Tim McVeigh, when she noted that his only mistake was not blowing up the New York Times.

Imagine that a popular black liberal website posted comments about the daughter of a white president, calling her “typical redneck trash,” or a “whore” whose mother entertains her by “making monkey sounds.” After all that’s comparable to what conservatives posted about Malia Obama on freerepublic.com last year, when they referred to her as “ghetto trash.”

Imagine that black protesters at a large political rally were walking around with signs calling for the lynching of their congressional enemies. Because that’s what white conservatives did last year, in reference to Democratic party leaders in Congress.

In other words, imagine that even one-third of the anger and vitriol currently being hurled at President Obama, by folks who are almost exclusively white, were being aimed, instead, at a white president, by people of color. How many whites viewing the anger, the hatred, the contempt for that white president would then wax eloquent about free speech, and the glories of democracy? And how many would be calling for further crackdowns on thuggish behavior, and investigations into the radical agendas of those same people of color?

To ask any of these questions is to answer them. Protest is only seen as fundamentally American when those who have long had the luxury of seeing themselves as prototypically American engage in it. When the dangerous and dark “other” does so, however, it isn’t viewed as normal or natural, let alone patriotic. Which is why Rush Limbaugh could say, this past week, that the Tea Parties are the first time since the Civil War that ordinary, common Americans stood up for their rights: a statement that erases the normalcy and “American-ness” of blacks in the civil rights struggle, not to mention women in the fight for suffrage and equality, working people in the fight for better working conditions, and LGBT folks as they struggle to be treated as full and equal human beings.

And this, my friends, is what white privilege is all about. The ability to threaten others, to engage in violent and incendiary rhetoric without consequence, to be viewed as patriotic and normal no matter what you do, and never to be feared and despised as people of color would be, if they tried to get away with half the shit we do, on a daily basis.

Game Over.

By Tim Wise, who is among the most prominent anti-racist writers and activists in the U.S.  Wise has spoken in 48 states, on over 400 college campuses, and to community groups around the nation.  Wise has provided anti-racism training to teachers nationwide, and has trained physicians and medical industry professionals on how to combat racial inequities in health care.  His latest book is called Between Barack and a Hard Place.

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I seem to spend a good deal of my time waiting for something.  Waiting for traffic lights, for a book to come to the library, for my time at work (or the gym) to be over so I can do what I want, for spring or fall or winter to come.  Most of the time, what I waited for seems to take much less time and be worth less than I had anticipated when I was waiting.

It struck me last night at the Good Friday service that the format of the service was very similar to the familiar Festival of Lessons and Carols that most people have on Christmas Eve, only with a much different ending: the lights went out to extinguish life, not to herald a new light dawning.  Not yet.  And now the waiting.  Not waiting fulfilled of Christmas, but waiting in loss.  Waiting for Easter.

Yet no one is really thinking about it.  Not like they do for Christmas.  And do they really think about Christmas?  I know I think about food and parties and friends, decorations and presents and travel.  Not the tiny cold baby in a manger, a promise at once given and fulfilled — a promise of Easter to come.  So it shouldn’t surprise me that the world, and I, go on, not really waiting so much as marking time.

When tonight is over, the Son will rise.  We will rejoice, for a little while, and then go on with life.  If the waiting is to be over, we must do more than let the lilies, chocolate, and dinners full of what we didn’t eat for Lent sweep us away for another year.

I must let the Son rise in my heart, let the DayStar shower me with light and take away the pettiness, the mean-souled selfishness that possesses me, and fill the emptiness of my heart with the empty tomb and its promise.  And I must do it again, every day a little Easter, a little promise, at once fulfilled and given, of the true Sonrise to come, when waiting will be no more.

The biggest sacrifice, the biggest gift; is it His to give?  Or mine?

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