Category Archives: opinion

intolerance breeds intolerance breeds…

I remember a story a friend once told me about her boyfriend. When they’d drive by homes with republican political signs in the front yard, or come upon vehicles bearing similar bumper stickers, he would scoff. His immediate reaction was to dismiss those dwelling inside as human beings because they were republicans, “closed-minded conservatives.”

I’ve experienced this same attitude when I hear people around me talk about Christians (who, coincidentally, often get lumped in with the hated republican-sign-bearers). Anyone who believes in Jesus and goes to church is automatically intolerant, racist, sexist, stupid and hypocritical. Every single one. Forget that one of those Jesus believers may be sitting among them, fully embraced and accepted by that same group who professes to hate everything in which she has faith. And yet, she is not offended or angry because she knows that’s not her.

I find myself in this situation too often. And I’m too afraid to open my mouth, knowing even if I speak up, even if I say, “Hey, I’m not like that,” the reaction will not be one of surprise (to learn of my beliefs) and eye-opening understanding. Instead, they will challenge me, call me uneducated, ask incredulously how I could believe something so inane. I have to wonder if these people have considered any of it without first having to swallow their malice and contempt. People like Tod who have been through it all and come out on the other side disbelieving—I get that. I respect their opinions. But I get this feeling in the pit of my stomach when these other people talk, this gnawing ache that makes me ask myself, Aren’t they doing exactly what they say you do as a Christian? Aren’t they prejudging and generalizing and being closed-minded?

But I can’t ask. And maybe that makes me a coward and not worthy of calling myself a Christian. Maybe. But I’ve never found any decent in-roads in a situation like this. I will be shut out, mocked or otherwise chastised for my beliefs. And because the entire group (including me) knows there’s no scientific proof that God’s hanging around in the ether waiting to scoop up some of us and leave the rest behind while the Earth burns, I’m not going to be able to convince them I am right. All I will be able to tell them is what I believe, why I believe it, why I just can’t seem to shake it, no matter how many brilliant atheists cross my path.

I am, without a doubt, the least closed-minded Christian you’ll ever meet. And while I may be conservative in my lifestyle, I’m not in my political or social views. I am pretty darn liberal, actually. But I do believe Jesus lived, died and rose. I believe God’s hanging around in the ether. I believe they watch over me in my life and hear me when I speak to them, tell me things when I listen. And maybe that makes me schizophrenic. Or maybe it’s just a mechanism I’ve developed to deal with loneliness and a perceived lack of purpose in my life. But maybe it’s all true. I don’t think any one of us knows for sure.

The problem for me is not being the butt of jokes or on the receiving end of ridicule—I can handle those things. I am not fine with intolerance or hatred for any reason, by anyone, toward anyone. Whether it be about religion, gender, sexual orientation, lifestyle, appearance, behavior, social standing—there should be no hate, no prejudice, no malice or intentional harm. I think we all have the ability to hurt others indirectly, inadvertently. It should never happen on purpose. I should never look another person in the eye and tell him how awful he is, no matter how much he has hurt me or how little I agree with his views. I was hurt too often in my younger years by peers and others to justify ever wanting to hurt someone else like that, no matter how badly they’ve treated me.

Please stop judging based on bumper stickers, at least ones so general as Jesus fish, Darwin fish, republican or democrat. And if you see one that says, “I kill and eat babies—and they are DELICIOUS!” you may want to check and see if that’s a joke before you run them off the road. Y’know, just to be sure.

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personal safety

It should not be the norm to be constantly concerned about one’s personal safety. To breathe a sigh of relief because you made it through the night without a break-in or got to work in one piece. And, looking at my neighborhood, you wouldn’t think any of that. But Memphis just has this vibe. And then a neighbor leaves a note in your door saying, “Call me! Very important!” So you call him and he’s not home, but you think there must’ve been someone prowling your yard the day before or staking out your house from their car parked on the street. It makes me feel the need to buy a gun and go home at lunch to guard the house. Or maybe my landlady just needs to get back from Florida so I don’t feel like I need to hold down the fort on my own. Perhaps I wasn’t ready to buy a house after all.

In other news, babysitting went successfully, though it was followed up immediately thereafter by some intense vomiting on the part of three family members. This was a disconcerting turn of events to be sure. I hung around long enough to clean up the kids’ toys and chat briefly with what I can only imagine were two very harried parents who lost out on the relaxing-date-night opportunity when they walked in to see their son puking all over their throw blanket. Poor kid. =( I hope they all survived the rest of the weekend…

I decided to wear a blazer today. Not sure why. Had a new blogging idea this morning: Memphis Murder Report. And I just looked at the clock and saw it was 8:26. That makes me happy every time. One little remnant of OCD years past. Have a great day, children.

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Filed under opinion, paranoia, recap

size 14

I was listening to one of the local (hick) country stations on the way to work this morning. The morning-show hosts were discussing some study that supposedly correlated a woman’s size with her happiness. Apparently, according to their findings, a size-14 woman is the happiest, being most satisfied with her job, life status, mate, etc. Next were size 12s, then 10s, 8s and 16s.

One caller made a good point that the women’s ages may not have been factored in, since many women will be a higher size after having children, thus also raising (in most cases) their joy levels. She said she used to be a 14, is now a 6 and wouldn’t dream of going back to her former state. That offended me a little, but I understand, and if I could be a 6, I would be. It was just the incredulity with which she said it that rubbed me the wrong way. Fourteen is not gigantic. It will never be petite, but it’s not awful.

Anyway, the worst part was what came next. The caller stated that younger women are less pleased with being a size 14, to which one of the hosts replied, “That’s true – I was watching ‘The Biggest Loser’ last night, and those women didn’t seem too happy!” To think that men (sorry, generalizing) assume that size 14 = 300 pounds of woman is pretty damn ludicrous! I’d rather a man have no idea what “14” means (since it’s not in inches like his pant size) than to think it means you sweat when you walk. Ugh! People are stupid.

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Filed under health, opinion

running for office at the office

Office politics are so inane. Long story short, I’m getting an office tomorrow! It’s been a long time coming, so I’m very excited about it. And as soon as the dust settles and all the furniture’s been moved, maybe I can stop worrying about being the center of attention. First it was asking if we could close the doors to keep out the cold, which has resulted in everyone thinking they need to check with me before opening or closing any doors in the hallway. Now it’s the office rearranging. They’re just not a big deal! Now, granted, I was momentarily displeased with the outcome of the office situation, but I took a few minutes to process it and really think it through. And now I’m fine. If only it worked so quickly and easily for the rest of the people there…

I brought home Guitar Hero tonight for the Wii. Had to leave it at the office last night while I went out for an extravagant dinner with our direct-mail-marketing advisers from Maryland. We went to Ruth’s Chris and had absolutely scrumptious filet mignon, served on 500-degree plates. My boss and I both got ours topped Oscar style: a crab cake, Hollandaise sauce and asparagus. There was wine flowing, cocktails littering the table, pre-ordered appetizers for the table and side dishes passed around family style. It was an evening of getting acquainted with people I talk to every week on the phone, and hearing hilarious stories from them and my own coworkers. Such a rare opportunity to relax and let (semi-) loose. Very nice.

We also had two straight days of meetings, which wore on me after a while. But it did give me a good bit of time to get things accomplished on my laptop. Having my boss preoccupied with the same meeting meant he wasn’t constantly giving me new things to do on top of my outstanding assignments. I find that’s one of the toughest things, and one of the reasons I’m glad when he’s on vacation. I still get new things to do, but not with such frequency. It’s like a mini breather when he’s gone and I can get to the backlog.

I keep pondering giving more to Ducks Unlimited in the way of a donation. I think about the fact that a mere $250 per YEAR would make me a Bronze Sponsor, which many people are not. And if I don’t have the $250 to donate the next year, I’m just not a sponsor anymore. They don’t send thugs to my house demanding my contribution, and other than a few unnecessary mailings, what’s the harm? Will have to seriously consider it for next year, I guess. While I’m single and not paying off a house, it’d probably be a good thing to do.

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Filed under jobs, opinion, recap

what kind of world

Maybe I’m just naive or out of touch with reality, but I find the crime statistics of our society baffling. I know there’s more and more poverty out there, more people forced to “do without” every day. But at what point do people start thinking it’s OK to harm others and/or steal their possessions? How many of us would do that if faced with a missed paycheck or a few too many late fees on our electric bill? I should hope it wouldn’t be something so minor that would cause us to break into someone else’s home and take their electronics, jewelry or other valuables. Or to hold a gun to someone’s head in the street and demand everything they have on hand.

I know I’ve relocated to a high-crime area, but even back in Michigan, the rural area around my home is now being targeted by home invaders. This is an area where I could never imagine such a thing happening. I spent every moment of my young life in my mother’s home in the country, and even though she always diligently locked the door, and even though I was constantly paranoid about rapists and murderers coming in the night, it was never a reality. I never actually expected to hear about break-ins or shootings. Or at least I was never prepared enough not to be shocked at hearing reports now.

The daily news feeds from Memphis and the surrounding area are riddled with horrifying stories. From a little girl’s wheelchair being stolen from her driveway to a couple being tied up and tortured in their home to break-ins on every block. Not that they’re unheard of in my neighborhood, but being in the ‘burbs makes you feel like you have a cushion. But now our community is being targeted, and multiple homes have been burglarized recently. It’s so frightening. My hope is that the tenants are not home when it happens – if nothing else, I hope there are no lives lost.

But how do people get to the point where they think that someone else’s belongings are just as much theirs? That it’s OK to jimmy a lock or shatter a window to get at anything and everything they can find. A coworker’s home was broken into just before Thanksgiving. They stole their laptops, video camera, his wife’s engagement ring and other assorted items. Just before the holiday. Just because the car had been gone a few days. They don’t exactly live in a great part of town, but it really isn’t that bad, and I’m sure they thought they were pretty safe. It’s just so sad to hear about that, even if they’re coping and getting some insurance money. Why is the world so screwed up?

I can say without a moment’s hesitation that I would never steal or murder. (I guess there are multiple gray areas with stealing, like is it OK to walk out of the grocery store with a head of garlic in your pocket? Is that the same as taking someone’s computer? But you know what I mean.) I would never stand outside someone’s empty house and think, They’re so rich—how much are they really going to miss that plasma TV? Maybe the people standing out there have never had a single nice thing, or even a single thing that meant a lot to them regardless of monetary worth, but if they have, how can they not even for a second put themselves in the shoes of the victims? How can they not consider how it will feel to come home to a busted deadbolt, a home that now feels unsafe and soiled, missing belongings, tearful children, the difficulties of dealing with insurance companies, the possibility of having no coverage for what’s been lost, the hurt of being a victim, the fear that is now sure to play at the fringes of their minds? I have lived with paranoia for years, not because I was victimized but because that’s how my brain works. I can’t imagine what it would be like with a precedent or a reason.

If any of you out there have ever even considered harming someone else or stealing, I don’t know how you look at yourself in the mirror. And for the rest of you (the vast majority) who would never, could never do that to another person, I applaud your mutual incredulity. And I hope that if any of us is ever in a situation to stop something like this from happening to someone—anyone—that we would do whatever we could to help. I know I would.

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joy by association?

For some reason, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my little basement apartment in Holt. In so many ways, I didn’t like that place (landlady with gun, tiny dogs on my bed, gurgling register in the bathroom – just to name a few), but in a few, I really did. And I think it’s because I associate that place (and vice versa) with a time in my life when I felt spiritually alive. That was when I was most deeply involved with Riverview, more specifically Epic (college ministry), Catalyst (leadership off-shoot) and life groups (bible study). That was the apartment where Laura and I decorated Halloween cookies for our fellow women. And where I lived literally one “block” (country road) from the church itself. I walked there the afternoon we left for the Fall Retreat, sleeping bag in one hand and shouldering a backpack full of clothes and toiletries for the two-day trip. And even though I never really made any close friends (lots of friends and acquaintances, but no FRIEND friends, you know?) that was my peak. I learned the most about God through those groups and that church. I had fire under me to make something of myself spiritually. I was baptized for the first time there, among my peers, with my family and close friends in attendance. Even though I attended for less than a year, Riverview was the apex of my Christian life.

Tonight, I went to Hope again for their Wednesday evening NEXT service. I ate so much at lunchtime that I opted to skip dinner, instead taking a walk around the lake at work, talking to Mandy on the phone and showing up in time for the class portion of the evening. Walking in the door, the coffee smell reminded me of Riv. And I went to that other session that I mentioned before – the non-touchy-feely one? – and it was SO. MUCH. BETTER. Oh, man. It totally took me back to Riv and Chuck Wynn’s Route 66 class (Old Testament in, like, a month of Sundays), and that morning I attended the welcome day at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. And, you know, to this day, biblical history gets me excited. Regular history – world, U.S., etc. – is OK, definitely interesting, all that. But biblical history hits me harder for some reason. Even in moments of extreme doubt, I will still be taking notes like a ravenous hobo who finds some clean crusts of bread near the top of the Dumpster. I really get into it.

While eating lunch with the singles ministry people the other day, I was chatting with a girl named Shelley, and mentioned my visit to the seminary, how I wished it made more sense to enroll even if you can’t see yourself in ministry in the future. But it just doesn’t. Everyone around me was “called” to pursue a career as a pastor or a permanent missionary. They’d been pondering it for years and asking God’s advice all along the way. They were relocating several hundred miles to heed God’s call. I, on the other hand, had been considering the notion for several … days? And I really just wanted to go to classes about history and theory and languages? Yeah, different worlds. I loved Old & New Testament at MSU, even if they were taught by two of the most hellacious professors in my college career. (Though I will admit I took a second course with one of them – I like a challenge!) These professors didn’t (seem to) believe in the faith behind the scripture whatsoever, so it balanced perfectly with Chuck Wynn’s totally faith-based teaching in Route 66. I ate up every bit of all three courses.

Anyway, I miss learning. I miss biblical history, theory and archeology. I miss scribbling notes like a fiend and finding out all the different translations of Greek and Hebrew words. I will always remember Laura bringing devotion passages from Sparkling Gems from the Greek, which looked like an extra-cheesy textbook covered in jewels but held so many great passages about the original Greek and today’s translations. I miss the Riverview family so much, even though I didn’t know more than 10 people of the thousands in attendance.

That Holt apartment and Riverview (even though it was huge in its own right) really represent for me a more down-to-earth, compact life than I could ever live here in Memphis. Not only is it a big place, but the roads are paved and busy, the street corners don’t feel safe, I can’t smell any manure and there are no places to walk. Holt was too far from East Lansing to walk to the Dairy Plant for work, but I drove there on empty roads at 6:30 in the morning. I watched the sun rise over fields full of either cows, sheep and a donkey, or geese nibbling at the remnants of recent threshings. I stopped my car, turned off the radio and turned to God for 15 minutes before I walked inside and faced days of making cheese and freezing ice cream. It wasn’t all perfect, and some of it was really hard, but it was my favorite time. I know I don’t need to be back in that exact spot to reawaken the joy of it, but I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to experience it here. Not in this house in the ‘burbs or dealing with crazy southern drivers every morning and evening. Probably not even in the Mid-South in general.

But maybe all I need is God to get me there. God and a strong pull to Him, to learn more about Him. We’ll see…

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Filed under education, faith, home, lessons, opinion, thoughts

laid out flat

I am absolutely wiped today. I didn’t get enough sleep last night, had one of the most stressful work days of my adult life and could barely manage to drive home and flop down on my bed. I had grand plans of grilling chicken and going to the gym, since my church involvement is going to increase this week and keep me from working out Wednesday and Thursday, but I didn’t manage either. I ate two slices of leftover pizza and watched most of an episode of “CSI: NY.”

I did take a nice walk today at lunch around the DU lake. It wasn’t until last week that a coworker informed me that the path goes all the way around, not just in a semi-circle with a foot bridge at either end. It’s actually a very well kept path with terrain reminiscent of Michigan. It was a really nice trek, so I’m looking forward to doing that most days. I also finished out my lunch hour by finding a rather large Yellow Garden Spider in the courtyard outside the office kitchen. Very exciting.

Random Encounter of the Week: I seem to be crossing paths with a lot of faces from the past lately. Two exes have contacted me within the last month, after years of silence. Then there was that Macy’s cashier. Now I got an email from a guy on Craigslist who I’d asked about a room for rent when I was first planning to move down here. We exchanged messages a couple times back then, but when it came to my trip down with my mom to find a place to live, he just never responded. He must’ve been going through old emails and came across mine. He wrote and asked if I’d ended up moving and how things were going. We then proceeded to talk via Yahoo! Messenger, which I never use (installed Pidgin instead). Unfortunately, he has been the inspiration for those two Tweets (upper right corner of the sidebar on this page) about conversation killers.

I hate “guy” guys sometimes. They make me miss Tod so much. =) I know that sounds like an insult, but it’s not. I’m just sick of stereotypically bull-headed males who can’t stand “girl movies” (different from chick flicks, apparently – this genre includes ALL serious films…) and cringe at the thought of watching something in French with English subtitles. Or who get all awkward when I explain something like “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” and why it was amazing. And especially those who try to make me think “American Pie” was some sort of classic! Now that I think about it, I have met three guys since moving to Memphis who fit this exact profile. Ugh. I’m pretty sure it’s about their being closed off to the idea that there is potential for anything good in an independent French film, not about my having high levels of estrogen.

I have more to say, but my body hurts all over and my head is foggy, so I’m going to take a warm bath and hit the hay.

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