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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Hard Words

It seems these days that no one wants to say the hard words or to ask the hard questions.

Oh, I don't mean that people won't say what's on their minds or even that people won’t say in public what should only be said in private. But rather…people seem to shy away from saying the truly hard things...things about life and truth. Words about personal responsibility and the cost of citizenship. Words about the proper use and function of sex and marriage; or words about how abortion is the taking of an innocent human life, or how choices really do matter.

I find myself wondering if it felt any different for Betsy and Corrie tenBoom as they hid Jews from the Nazi army; or if it felt weird for Dietrich Bonhoeffer when he took a stand against Hitler. I hear more contemporary voices crying out to "ask not what my government can do for me, but rather what can I do for my government?" Oh don't get me wrong, I know that's not exactly what President Kennedy said, but it does rather reflect what he meant.

Then comparatively speaking Dr. King asked that neither he nor his children be judged by the color of their skins, but by the content of their character. And here we are today--at our enlightened state--and all we can talk about is hyphenated this and hyphenated that.

Whatever happened to us? Is that a hard question too?

Perhaps its time we all begin to ask the hard questions, to say the hard words. Truth matters. Life matters. We matter.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

By The Numbers

Recently I began a study in the Old Testament Book of Numbers. I can almost hearing some of you rolling your eyes at the thought. I can even imagine hearing some of you say the only thing worse would be a study of the book of Leviticus. Well, I just finished that one.

One of the first things I learned from the book of Numbers was the question, or the idea of perception.  For instance, the title, Numbers. We western minded students have taken the meaning of the book, its primary expression, to be concerned with the numbering of the nation of Israel; thus its name. While in reality, the true name of the book, as it is known in the Hebrew, is Bemidhbar and means literally, in the wilderness.  (Hint-hint, it’s about our life on earth as we seek to learn about who God is and what His purpose for our lives is.)

Now, you may be wondering what all this has to do with anything. I'm glad you asked. I have found that when it comes to writing it is chiefly about perception. As a writer, I am actively trying to get you—my reader—to perceive a world or a character in a certain light. Is Aragorn merely an untrustworthy Ranger of the North; or is he the long awaited heir of the throne of Arnor, the 35th king of Gondor? Perception, it’s all about perception.

Take this current election cycle. Regardless to which party you are favored, both are trying to impact your perception of what they are about and who they really are. Too often in this pursuit the question of truth is left unanswered in favor of the more comfortable...or shall we say less challenging idea of style or presentation.

Let's look back at the study of the Book of Numbers. Is it a book about the census of nation and how fast each of its twelve tribes reproduced? Or is it the study of a people who wandered in the wilderness trying to learn and apply the lessons given by an Almighty, All knowing God who loved them and wanted to teach them to live by a superior standard in the chaotic world that was their norm?  You see, your perception of the book will determine how you approach it; and how you approach it will determine what you find in it.

The same is true in life, whether writing a new manuscript or trying to decide which way to vote; it’s all about perception. Think about it.