Tuesday, December 30, 2014

On White Privilege

White people can turn off the TV when we're sick of talking about race. White, liberal people want to be nice. We don't want to be racist. We want to be, "Oh we're post-racial. We don't want to talk about white privilege and it's all good, right?" It's not the case. Silence is an action and it's my privilege that I can be silent about this issue. And I'm tired of being silent about it. We have to get past that awkward stage of the race conversation. As a white person, we have to listen.  -- Macklemore, quoted in Rolling Stone, 11.30.14

Saturday, December 20, 2014

DJesus Uncrossed | back in action

In the spirit of Christmas I'm sure, a number of people came looking this week for the SNL short, DJesus Uncrossed. Unfortunately the link was dead, but now, after just a few days, it's...well, you know.

The clip is still guaranteed to offend about as many as it delights (though delight is probably not the right word). Anyway, the question remains: Is this, or anything like it, really anyone's preferred image of Jesus — let alone the Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke and/or John? Sadly, it probably is.

If you haven't already, you can find DJesus Uncrossed right...here.

Monday, December 15, 2014

in the wind | tweets from the space ending 12.13.14

over it? Bloomberg survey finds ½ of American don't want their sons to play football http://bloom.bg/1vQsPjA

...and the truth will make you flinch before it sets you free | thoughts on torture as American policy jimhancock.blogspot.com

God help us | Letter to Mr. Lord re: 10-year Priorities, 2005-2014 http://jimhancock.blogspot.com 

@commonsense picks for best 2014 movies to watch with your children, tweens + teens http://bit.ly/1DpaeQB

@commonsense picks best holiday books for children, three - nine years http://bit.ly/1DpbNOB

This is not the conversation parents are supposed to dread http://jimhancock.blogspot.com 

Friday, December 12, 2014

shutdown vs bank bailouts | a letter to my senators

December 12, 2014

Senator, the last government shutdown cost billions, but the last bank-precipitated financial crisis cost trillions.

I hate the prospect of a shutdown, but I urge you: Don't put the course of our economy back in the hands of actors who demand their exercise of high-risk investment schemes be backstopped by taxpayers.

Sincerely,

Jim Hancock

Thursday, December 11, 2014

God help us | Letter to Mr. Lord re: 10-year Priorities, 2005-2014

December 15, 2004

To: Mr. Lord
From: USLT
Re: 10-year Priorities, 2005-2014

Dear Mr. Lord, 

As the year draws to a close, no one knows better than you that our branch is working with limited resources. With competing interests in the Morals & Ethics department and insufficient bandwidth to tackle everything, the team could use a quick reality check.

If, for the foreseeable future, we have to choose between A and B, do you want us to prioritize:

A. Speaking against the torture of suspected terrorists by employees and agents of the government in the US jurisdiction

B. Speaking against equal protection under the law for LBGT citizens in the US jurisdiction 

[Or perhaps there's a "C" that we missed? (wouldn't be the first time, lol)]

Sorry to put you in this position so late in the year. Hopefully, we’ll have greater resources as our real estate and other investments begin paying out, but until then...

Awaiting your reply, 

The US Leadership Team

p.s. Candidly, some in the branch feel like we’re getting mixed messages from you and your son. It would nice to clear that up at some point.

p.p.s If we don’t see you, Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

You will know the truth and the truth will make you flinch before it sets you free | thoughts on torture as an American policy

"You will know the truth and the truth will make you flinch before it sets you free." 

It's a saying passed down by friends of the Baptist preacher Carlyle Marney, He doesn't seem to have included the line in any of his writings or published sermons, but he appears to be stuck with until somebody steps forward to claim it for someone else.

We are in the grip of one of those massive flinches right now as we digest the summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture as a tool of US policy.

Some of us feel blindsided by the release of hundreds of pages detailing horrendous acts committed in our name. But not everyone. The conversation has been going on for more than a decade. In 2006, I decided to stop just talking about torture and start recording what I knew, what I suspected and what I feared about my country's decent into officially sanctioned torture.

I'm indebted to those who held the light so others could read the handwriting on the wall.

Here, for what it's worth, is one person's progression of posts — some original, much borrowed —tracking how the wind's been blowing on torture as an American pursuit. 

March 06 2006 | Mr. Conyers Steps Up 

Democracy Undone with the Stroke of a Pen



February 15 2008 | Senator McCain Said What?







May 23 2013 | Barack Obama on the components of a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy 

October 27, 2014 | If... National Security + Moral Law 01



Monday, December 08, 2014

in the wind | posts from the space ending 12.06.14

I am not a cobbler | Seth Godin http://bit.ly/1wYt5ws

nothing inevitable | on choosing to vote for the common good jimhancock.blogspot.com 

it's on us | sexual assault + the casual bystander jimhancock.blogspot.com

slap a banker | Colin Farrell + global corruption jimhancock.blogspot.com

Ferguson Grand Jury | an honest mistake? jimhancock.blogspot.com 

Who's picking up the slack on World AIDS Day 2014 jimhancock.blogspot.com 

(RED) | a more hopeful note on World AIDS Day jimhancock.blogspot.com

If Eric Garner is not my brother, is there any reason to believe God is my father? jimhancock.blogspot.com 

Thursday, December 04, 2014

If Eric Garner is not my brother, is there any reason to believe God is my father?

I don't think I'm too far out a limb here. An ancient proverb says:
The righteous care about justice for the poor,
but the wicked have no such concern.
Now, suggesting I'm righteous would be ludicrous, but holey moley...we can't get a jury trial from the physical evidence in this case?

As news on the Eric Garner Grand Jury decision broke yesterday in New York, Jon Stewart's emotional tone felt about right to me. Lord have mercy.

Monday, December 01, 2014

(RED) | a more hopeful note on World AIDS Day

The post below is a question that needs answering. This one's an answer that needs telling.

h/t #BofA + @RED

Who's picking up the slack on World AIDS Day 14

On this World AIDS Day, around 80% of US high school districts have policies allowing parents to exclude their children from instruction on HIV prevention (and/or instruction on preventing pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted diseases and/or human sexuality). This represents an increase since 2000 of more than 15%.

On this World AIDS Day, HIV in the US appears to be spreading most rapidly among young males (aged 13-24) having sex with males.

Question: are the parents who exclude their teenage boys from instruction on HIV prevention picking up the slack — meaning — are those adults teaching their youngsters how to prevent HIV infection? And if not the parents, then...?

Monday, November 03, 2014

nothing inevitable | on choosing to vote for the common good

There's nothing inevitable about elections.

Suppose a hundred thousand - or a million - registered voters across the US were too busy / frustrated / angry / discouraged / distracted / whatever to vote in the midterm elections...

And suppose people and parties who work for and defend the best interests of those non-voters were to lose seats to people and parties who work against and undermine the best interests of those non-voters...

And suppose each of those non-voters then said, "See, my candidate or ballot measure lost; my vote wouldn't have mattered anyway" — not knowing that a hundred thousand - or a million - other registered non-voters were saying the same thing...

There's nothing inevitable about elections, except the fact that the outcome of each and every election is determined by adding up the number of people who actually voted.

The only way to be sure that my vote doesn't matter is to not cast it.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

in the wind | tweets from the space ending 11.01.14

If... Where the Economy Meets Health Care 01
jimhancock.blogspot.com 

If... National Security + Moral Law 01 
jimhancock.blogspot.com

If... Poverty in the US 
jimhancock.blogspot.com

why your uncle's opinion on ebola is essentially worthless jimhancock.blogspot.com

Congressional Private Sector Relocation Program jimhancock.blogspot.com

plasticity | Seth Godin http://bit.ly/1ucQ0p6

Find Your Polling Place | h/t Voting Information Project 
jimhancock.blogspot.com

Friday, October 31, 2014

Find Your Polling Place | h/t Voting Information Project

If you plan to vote live on November 4th, you can double-check your polling location with this handy tool from the folks at the nonpartisan Voting Information Project.



Thursday, October 30, 2014

Congressional Private Sector Relocation Program

I'd like to see the man from my district in the US House of Representatives enter the Congressional Private Sector Relocation Program before he he embarrasses me again. Maybe next week in the 2014 midterms...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

why your uncle's opinion on ebola is essentially worthless

Your uncle has been listening nonstop to frightening tales of horrible deaths for weeks, and if he's sure about anything, he's sure that anybody who's been in west Africa should be quarantined for 21 days after they arrive in the US.

Your uncle is full of crap.

I know this because I know your uncle has never once submitted himself for a three week quarantine after being exposed to the flu virus; nor would he ever do so.

This, despite the fact that flu has been known to survive 17 days on banknotes.

Do you have that firmly in mind? Your uncle could catch the flu from a dollar bill 17 days after someone sneezed on it. And someone could catch the flu 17 days after one of your uncle's messy sneezes on a dollar bill.

But has the man ever submitted himself for voluntary isolation after having knowingly been exposed to someone with the flu? No, he has not, and he is not likely to do so, despite the fact that somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 Americans die every year from influenza and pneumonia. Not one - which is number of people who have died from Ebola in the US as of this moment - but 50,000. That's roughly the population of Greenwood, Indiana or Hoboken, New Jersey - wiped out every year by flu and pneumonia.

Your uncle demanded an Ebola Czar and now he's livid that President Obama appointed a non-medical person to the position. But what does it matter? People like your uncle who need an Ebola Czar don't believe doctors anyway. And doctors are busy this time of year, treating flu victims.

Your uncle may be a serious man, but he's not serious about this. He's just afraid. 

And people like us should maybe be afraid that, next Tuesday, people like him could cast more ballots for the cynical candidates who feed his fear than the rest of us cast for candidates who face the world as it is, not as we're incited to fear it might be.

So, yeh, get out and vote. Take a couple of friends along when you go, and vote like it matters.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

If... Poverty in the US

We're a long, long way from erasing poverty in the US. Not even close yet.

That said, if I'm glad that something like 10 million of my fellow citizens — who couldn't afford health insurance in the past — are now covered (with real coverage, not just the old laws that prohibited poor people from being turned away by hospital emergency departments) — then why would I vote for someone who wants to return those citizens to higher risk and expose taxpayers to the greater costs associated with emergency-room-only health crisis interventions (because somebody pays for the costs of health care for uninsured people)?

We're not even close to addressing the systemic issues that contribute to poverty in the US, but we've taken the first steps to remove inadequate health care from the list of factors that can plunge people into poverty and keep them there. So why wouldn't I get out on November 4th to vote for someone...
  • who doesn't believe that poverty is inevitable
  • who doesn't assume every poor person is a moral failure
  • who is willing to work for an America where we refuse to bow to problems that are solvable when we work together
...seriously: why wouldn't I?

Monday, October 27, 2014

If... National Security + Moral Law 01

If, following a brief excursion into madness, I'm grateful that torture is once again off the table as sanctioned U.S. policy and practice, then why in the world would I give my vote to a candidate for the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives who condones or advocates torture as a tool of national security under some vague "whatever it takes" doctrine?

And why would I not get out on November 4th to vote for a candidate whose core understanding of the American way rejects torture—period?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

If... Where the Economy Meets Health Care 01

Some people in Congress — you know who they are — have fallen strangely silent about the Affordable Care Act  (that's pronounced Obamacare by my sneering drunk unclebecause they misled us (even if they merely served the whims of others who manufactured the lies) about what a disaster the law would be for the U.S. economy.

If I'm glad -- and quite impressed given the obstacles -- that the Affordable Care Act has so far cost less than projected by its most fervent advocates, and saved more than the most optimistic pre-calculations, then why, why, why would I vote for someone whose party wants to repeal it, or at least gut it, for reasons that confound reason?

And why wouldn't I get out on November 4th to vote for a candidate whose party is determined to protect and extend affordable, quality, health care to all Americans? 

Monday, October 20, 2014

in the wind | tweets from the space ending 10.18.14



"yes means yes" | California's new targeted consent for sex law
 jimhancock.blogspot.com

If... Health Care 01 
jimhancock.blogspot.com 

Intimate Partner Violence Starts Young... 
jimhancock.blogspot.com

If... The Economy 01 jimhancock.blogspot.com

who cares | apps + websites to help kids learn empathy 
http://bit.ly/1xzPIWL @commonsense

If... Health Care 02 jimhancock.blogspot.com

don't panic | vetted facts on how Ebola spreads jimhancock.blogspot.com 

If... Public Policy 01 jimhancock.blogspot.com


If... Health Care 03

I have several family members who suffer longterm, debilitating medical conditions.

If I'm glad  -- downright relieved, to tell the truth -- that they not only can't have health coverage denied or dropped because of those conditions AND that there's no longer a lifetime cap on covering treatment for those conditions, why in the name of all that's sane and sensible would I vote for someone who wants to undo that? 

In fact, why should I not be tempted to take that intention as a sign of ill will and insult to my taxpaying, law-abiding, patriotic, medically challenged family members?

And why in the name of sense and sensibility wouldn't I get out on November 4th and vote for a candidate whose party is determined to protect and extend affordable, quality, health care to all Americans?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

If... Governance 01

If I'm glad to live in a nation governed by constitutionally shaped laws and policies enacted in a balance of power among legislative, executive and judicial branches -- and if I'm committed to preserving and improving that governance -- why would I vote for someone whose party chose, and threatens to choose again, to shut down that government without regard to the cost to justice, public health and safety, national security, and the economy in general and working Americans in particular?

And why wouldn't I get out on November 4th to vote for a candidate whose party embraces the constitutional duty to govern for the common good?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

don't panic | vetted facts on how Ebola spreads




Ebola Deeply is a pop-up journalistic site—hopefully short-lived—that deals only in vetted Ebola news. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

If... Public Policy 01

If I want the women I respect, admire, and depend on to be paid a fair wage for the value they create in the workplace, why would I vote for someone who has filibustered and otherwise obstructed measures designed to ensure that women receive equal treatment under the law?

And why wouldn't I get out on November 4th to vote for a candidate whose party is determined to defend equal treatment under the law for every American?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

If... Health Care 02

If I'm glad  -- possibly grateful -- that my family members can no longer be denied health coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions, why would I vote for someone who wants to dismantle that?

And why wouldn't I get out on November 4th and vote for a candidate whose party is determined to protect and extend affordable, quality health care for Americans?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

If... The Economy 01

If I'm glad that banks and other lenders must now tell me exactly how much I will pay for the money I'm borrowing or the credit card I'm swiping, why would I vote for someone who is determined to undo that as soon as possible?

And why wouldn't I get out on November 4th and vote for a candidate whose party passed the law that requires that disclosure and is determined to protect and extend financial transparency and fair dealing for Americans?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

If... Health Care 01

If I'm glad  -- maybe even grateful -- that my health insurance covers my under-employed son or daughter until age 26, why would I vote for someone who is determined to undo that as soon as possible?

And why wouldn't I get out on November 4th and vote for a candidate whose party is determined to protect and extend affordable, quality, health care for Americans?

That goes double if I'm the sub-26-year-old who wouldn't have health coverage if it weren't for the Affordable Care Act (what my drunk uncle refers to contemptuously as Obamacare).

Monday, October 06, 2014

Intimate Partner Violence Starts Young...

sunshine is the best disinfectant...knowledge is power...forewarned is forearmed...

Intimate partner violence starts young and often persists. 

Download the new intimate partner violence infographic as a gigantic jpg, pdf or embed code for your classroom, youth room, drop-in center, website or kitchen table here


Sources:
The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prevalence and Characteristics of Sexual Violence, Stalking, and Intimate Partner Violence Victimization in the United States—National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, United States, 2011. MMWR 2014; 63(SS-8): 1-18.

Intimate Partner Violence in the United States — 2010. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Findings on Victimization by Sexual Orientation. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"yes means yes" | California's new targeted consent for sex law




You can read the text of the 1700 word Student Safety: Sexual Assault law right here.

The law requires California post-secondary schools:
  • to adopt policies concerning sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking that include certain elements, including an affirmative consent standard in the determination of whether consent was given by a complainant.
  • to the extent feasible, to enter into memoranda of understanding or other agreements or collaborative partnerships with on-campus and community-based organizations to refer students for assistance or make services available to students.
  • to implement comprehensive prevention and outreach programs addressing sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
Key definitions:
  • “Affirmative consent” means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the affirmative consent of the other or others to engage in the sexual activity. Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent.
  • ...it shall not be a valid excuse that the accused believed that the complainant affirmatively consented to the sexual activity if the accused knew or reasonably should have known that the complainant was unable to consent to the sexual activity under any of the following circumstances:
(A) The complainant was asleep or unconscious.
(B) The complainant was incapacitated due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication, so that the complainant could not understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual activity. 
(C) The complainant was unable to communicate due to a mental or physical condition.
At first glance these standards appear to be consistent with existing laws governing sexual assault. So, California's play here ties state funding, down to the level of financial aid to students in private colleges, to the adoption and implementation of campus policies regarding informed consent for sexual contact and consistent standards of information about consent, prevention of nonconsensual sexual contact,  and when necessary, aftercare for victims of sexual assault.

I see nothing here that can't or shouldn't be the subject ongoing education for teenagers and children in families, community organizations and faith-centered youth groups.

Monday, September 29, 2014

in the wind | tweets from the space ending 09.27.14


the people's business | why people like us register and vote jimhancock.blogspot.com

US 'Active Shooter Incidents' 2000-2013 | a new study jimhancock.blogspot.com

MINO vs CINO | Do you believe everyone who claims to be a Muslim is, in fact, a Muslim jimhancock.blogspot.com

Saturday, September 27, 2014

MINO vs CINO | Do you believe everyone who claims to be a Muslim is, in fact, a Muslim?

Do you believe everyone who claims to be a Muslim is, in fact, a Muslim?

How about this: Do you believe everyone who claims to be a Christian is, in fact, a Christian?

How about these guys, the Church of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan?
What do we believe in our Church? We believe in the Bible before liberals translated it. We of the White Race came from Adam and Eve, not monkeys. The Bible clearly shows we are of one lineage, and makes reference to Beasts who walked on two legs. It also spoke of the wrongs of sleeping with these beasts. So we believe that blacks are not our Brothers and Sisters, but are beasts of burden.  To accept evolution fully, is to say that we are equal with these animals, which history shows that we are not equal to, and in fact are superior to.  While the Supreme Court has accepted animals to Vote and Marry with our race, we have not and never will accept this.
They are a 501(C)(3) tax exempt religious organization. Do you think they represent the mainstream of Christian faith? Do you think they represent Jesus? Or do you think they may be Christians in name only?

Going out on a limb here to propose that most Christians would not agree to have the Church of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan speak for them in matters of faith and practice — is it any further out on a limb to imagine there are Muslims who abhor and reject the hatred and violence of people who are Muslims in name only?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

US Active Shooter Incidents 2000-13 | a new study

The FBI has concluded a study of the 160 active shooter incidents in the US from 2000 - 2013. An active shooter incident is a situation in which a person (or, rarely, persons) actively engages in killing or attempting to kill people in populated locations like businesses, schools, government facilities, houses of worship, and open spaces.*

Among the principle findings:
  • Active shooter incidents increased in frequency. There were on average 6.4 incidents per year in 2000 - 2006, rising to an average of 16.4 incidents in 2007 - 2013.
  • There were 1,043 casualties (486 killed, 557 wounded—excluding the shooters).
  • Six of the 160 incidents involved a female shooter.
  • 158 of 160 incidents involved just one shooter.
  • 64 incidents fall within the federal definition of mass killing—three or more killed in a single incident
  • 107 incidents ended before police arrived
    • 90 shootings ended on the shooter’s initiative by suicide or flight. 
    • 21 incidents ended after unarmed citizens restrained the shooter.
    • Four incidents were interrupted by armed security guards or off-duty law officers. 
    • One incident was ended by a citizen with a valid firearm carry permit.
  • In the 64 incidents where duration could be determined, 44 ended in five minutes or less, 23 of those in two minutes or less.
  • In 21 of the 45 incidents where law enforcement engaged the shooter, nine officers were killed and 28 were wounded.
  • Active shooter incidents occurred in seven environments
    • 73 incidents occurred in commercial environments
    • 39 took place in educational environments
    • 16 were in government facilities
    • 15 were in open spaces
    • seven in residences
    • six in houses of worship
    • four in health care facilities.
* Active shooter incidents are distinguished from "ordinary" murders by the active and public nature of the crime  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

why people like us register and vote

The US House Committee on Science, Space and Technology reminds me of a church Buildings and Grounds Committee who believe their main job is keeping people out of the buildings and off the grounds.

These guys — not everybody in Congress but the presence in Congress of people like these guys — are a very good reason to register and vote this year so we can get on with what functioning congresses have always referred to as, "the people's business." 

Today is National Voter Registration Day. We're not voting for a president, but there's a lot to gain and a lot to lose in this year's midterm elections. It would suck if people like these remained in positions of responsibility simply because people like us didn't register and vote.

You can probably register online: Rock the Vote | League of Women Voters

Monday, September 22, 2014

in the wind | tweets from the space ending 09.20.14

foxes in the henhouse | "there is no meritocracy without accountability" http://bit.ly/1q77MqX

U2 | free + clear jimhancock.blogspot.com 

The Daily Show (finally) comes clean on Obamacare jimhancock.blogspot.com 

where credit is due | a microburst of interest today in a pro-adolescent post from last year http://bit.ly/1r4RyfX

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

U2 | free + clear

Every once in a while I post an ad because it's thought-provoking. I'm posting this one because U2's new album, Songs of Innocence, is free on iTunes—which is a pretty good deal all things considered.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

in the wind | tweets in the space ending 08.06.14


FIVE PICTURES | LABOR DAY + A LIVING WAGE http://jimhancock.blogspot.com

kids gone wild | don't let the facts get in the way of a good story (your funding might just depend on it)
http://bit.ly/1vGlF1q

not having it | US smoke-free homes grew from 43% in 1992 to 83% in 2011 
http://1.usa.gov/1r8wSAW 

Common Sense guide for reducing social media drama http://bit.ly/1o7htjy

2nd Class Kids? | Friends of the Court brief to 7th Circuit (IN + WI) on same sex marriage http://bit.ly/1oRQvMg

Sunday, August 31, 2014

in the wind | favorite tweets + posts | August 2014

- easy lessons from other people's pain  jimhancock.blogspot.com

- Gospel Stew | letter from a new Christian jimhancock.blogspot.com

- off the top of his head | Stephen Colbert Q+A jimhancock.blogspot.com

- "This is the white flag." | the difference in being white + black in America jimhancock.blogspot.com

oversharing | social media hippityhop @Flocabulary [h/t @CommonSense]

- "Should I just put my hands in the air?" | different rules apply http://bit.ly/VEIp2t 

Monday, August 25, 2014

in the wind | tweets from the space ending 08.23.14


nonmarital birth rates for 15–17 yr-olds dropped 30% to 14 per 1,000 from 2007-12 
http://1.usa.gov/1oLjyql

Gospel Stew | letter from a new Christian 
jimhancock.blogspot.com

"should I just put my hands in the air?" | different rules apply http://bit.ly/VEIp2t 

most children grow up | Africa's child demographics and the world's future http://bit.ly/1tsnP1s

easy lessons from other people's pain jimhancock.blogspot.com

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Gospel Stew | letter from a new Christian

Dear Gospel Stew, 
I am a new convert with a question I am embarrassed to ask in my local fellowship. I hope you will assist me. 
From the very start, I couldn't help noticing the stares as my family entered the worship center. We usually sit toward the front, on the side away from the lead guitarist, which is generally the only area with a block of seats large enough for us to sit together (we could arrive earlier and get seats at the back, but I confess that getting 23 of us out the door on time is a Sunday morning challenge). 
At first I thought perhaps people noticed us because of the way we dressed—we love the beautiful fabrics of our traditional garments—so I took the whole lot on a shopping trip to dress us more like the other worshipers. This may have helped a little, but I still catch people staring. "I must be missing something!" I thought. But what? 
I may have just found a clue. A few days ago, an angry comment to an internet post (I believe I am correct that anger is signified by CAPITAL LETTERS and EXTRA PUNCTUATION!! Right?) Anyway, this commenter said, "THE BIBLE IS PERFECTLY CLEAR ABOUT MARRIAGE!!! contrary to what THE KENYAN says!!!" 
"Ah..." I thought. I know some Kenyans (they seem like decent folk but I am learning that sometimes appearances deceive—which raises a question for a different time, because I am unclear about which times appearances deceive and which times they may be taken at face value...I have so much to learn as a Christian). 
In any event, what this commenter made PERFECTLY CLEAR(!!) in the course of two or three paragraphs—though it causes me considerable pain—may hold the key to unlocking my dilemma. 
So, to the question: Now that I am a Christian, how many of my wives must I divorce? All but one? If so, which one may remain? And how must I deal with the divorced wives? Must they be put out of the household entirely and all at once? And what of the children? Must they be sent away? 
The internet commenter really caught my attention with the words, HOW CAN YOU CALL YOURSELF A CHRISTIAN WHEN YOU IGNORE THE CLEAR COMMANDS OF GOD'S WORD!!! I am very new to all this and there is much of God's Word that I have yet to read. Perhaps the commenter is right: perhaps it is too soon to call myself a Christian. 
As you can probably tell, I find all this a bit overwhelming. I love my family with my whole heart, each and every one of them, but I am learning to love the God of Jesus Christ even more. And I am trusting that One to give me wisdom—through you, I hope.  
Awaiting your reply, I am, 
sincerely yours

p.s. I would also appreciate your insight on how to approach my parents, who arranged these marriages with great care and will almost certainly be dishonored unless I find a way forward that is both thoroughly biblical and "just right" in showing respect for the ones who bore me into this world and sustained me to adulthood.