Forcing Conformity While Calling It Tolerance

I am a staunch advocate for free speech and the free exercise of religion and am appalled at the steady erosion of these long-in-place and long-cherished rights in the United States.  

Phil Robertson, of Duck Dynasty, recently responded to a question about sin, paraphrasing–what he believes to be–the Word of God. He has been threatened with the loss of his job on the A&E network because he did so.

Companies like Hobby Lobby are being threatened with millions of dollars in crippling fines and, thus, ultimate expulsion from the marketplace because they are refusing to provide government-mandated employee health insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and related counseling. To go against their deeply-held pro-life beliefs would violate their Christian principles. This case is going all the way to the Supreme Court.

The marginalization of Christians in this country is a frightening trend and one that should alarm every American.

In the article below to which I link, is found this:

“Speaking on the issue of tolerance, mega-church pastor and bestselling author Rick Warren observed: ‘Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.’ Tolerance is not the same thing as acceptance, and acceptance is not the same thing as an endorsement. The message A&E’s decision sends is that the network will not tolerate someone who conscientiously objects to homosexuality on religious grounds. The implication of that message is that 45 percent of Americans [who are striving to live by biblical standards] should, in principle, be prepared either to sacrifice their jobs or recant their beliefs and endorse a lifestyle to which they are opposed, conscience be damned. To the extent that we embrace that implication, in television and in other American industries, we’re also embracing an identity as a nation that forces conformity while calling it tolerance.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/12/the-genuine-conflict-being-ignored-in-the-i-duck-dynasty-i-debate/282587/#!

Every Hard Duty, Every Hard Piece of Road, Every Point of Battle

Craters of the Moon 2Every hard duty that lies in your path, that you would rather not do, that it will cost you pain and struggle or sore effort to do, has a blessing in it. Not to do it, at whatever cost, is to miss the blessing.

Every hard piece of road on which you see the Master’s shoe-prints and along which He bids you follow Him, surely leads to blessing, which you cannot get if you cannot go over the steep, thorny path.

Every point of battle to which you come, where you must draw your sword and fight the enemy, has a possible victory which will prove a rich blessing to your life. Every heavy load that you are called to lift hides in itself some strange secret of strength.
—J. R. Miller

A Can of Oil

Oil canThere is a story of an old man who carried a little can of oil with him everywhere he went, and if he passed through a door that squeaked, he poured a little oil on the hinges. If a gate was hard to open, he oiled the latch. And thus he passed through life lubricating all hard places and making it easier for those who came after him. People called him eccentric, queer, and cranky; but the old man went steadily on refilling his can of oil when it became empty, and oiled the hard places he found.

There are many lives that creak and grate harshly as they live day by day. Nothing goes right with them. They need lubricating with the oil of gladness, gentleness, or thoughtfulness.

Have you your own can of oil with you? Be ready with your oil of helpfulness in the early morning to the one nearest you. It may lubricate the whole day for him. The oil, of good cheer to the downhearted one–Oh, how much it may mean! The word of courage to the despairing. Speak it. Our lives touch others but once, perhaps, on the road of life; and then, mayhap, our ways diverge, never to meet again.

The oil of kindness has worn the sharp, hard edges off of many a sin-hardened life and left it soft and pliable and ready for the redeeming grace of the Saviour. A word spoken pleasantly is a large spot of sunshine on a sad heart. Therefore, “Give others the sunshine, tell Jesus the rest.”

Excerpted from Streams in the Desert

Nelson Mandela and the Power of Faith

Nelson Mandela at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA, 1993.
Nelson Mandela at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA, 1993.

As the world mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela, I am reminded of a visit to Zimbabwe some years ago where I had the privilege of hearing him speak.

Robert Mugabe was also on the platform that day and I remember being struck by the great difference in the receptions afforded the two men. While Mugabe was greeted with polite (faint) applause, the room filled with ululations and other expressions of appreciation and admiration as Mandela stepped to the podium. Mandela, on that day, praised the missionaries who had been so influential in his walk with Christ and he insisted he would not have been the man he was if not for his faith.

I pray that followers of Christ who are reading this today might honor Mandela (and, more importantly, the God he served), by celebrating what Christ has done for us and by working each day for justice, peace and righteousness wherever the Lord calls us. And for anyone reading this today who has not met Jesus, I pray you might take note of how a walk with Christ may transform your life as it did Mandela’s. I pray you might invite Jesus into your life, celebrate your first true Christmas with great joy, and know the all-surpassing peace of the Lord all your days.

One Mandela statement that I’ve seen quoted again and again yesterday and this morning is this: “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” Would that we might all be granted the power by the Lord to overcome the bitterness, hatred and unforgiveness in our lives! Freedom.

Mandela_-_watercolour_-_caption_-_addresses_UN_3_Dec_1999_by_Eskinder_Debebe

 

Of Mice and Ringtails

Deer Mouse. Photo by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Deer Mouse. Photo by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about having been visited by a deer mouse. The little one  had taken up residence under our refrigerator and had demonstrated extraordinary boldness, approaching me  one morning again and again. Until…

Mac and Molly, our two Old English Sheepdogs emerged from the bedroom, raced toward me and tussled to capture the “prize” that had positioned itself under a stool on which I was seated. The mouse escaped and I am delighted to report it hasn’t been seen since. There’s no evidence of its presence anywhere in the RV and it hasn’t peeked out at me from any possible ports. Mac and Molly, it would seem, scared the daylights out of the mouse. I am relieved this is so but we do remain on guard. Deer mice are found throughout this region and have been identified as carriers of the hantavirus which is conveyed to humans through contact with the animals’ feces and urine. The first sign of infection is a fever that appears within 7-10 days of contact. I’ve learned that two persons had been infected with the virus here at the canyon. One died.

Around the same time of my deer mouse encounter, I discovered that a ringtail (the state mammal of Arizona) had shown up at Kolb Studio. A woman first alerted me to having seen it peering out of a dormer window. A humane trap was set out for it in the attic and, one morning, the young ringtail (which seemed quite docile and curious) was taken out and released at Desert View.

A River of Fog Fills the Grand Canyon

The day started with a white-out with the canyon completely obscured from view. Then, in–what seemed to be just moments–the fog dropped and settled below the rim. As noted on Twisted Sifter: “The phenomenon is known as ‘temperature inversion’ where warm air acts as a lid to seal cool air near the ground, trapping fog in the canyon and preventing it from rising. According to the National Weather Service, the atmosphere’s temperature profile is most prone to inversion during the winter, when long nights allow for air near the Earth’s surface to become unusually cold.”

Some of the best photographs of the inversion were taken by Park Ranger Erin Whittaker and are found here: http://www.twistedsifter.com/2013/12/grand-canyon-floor-filled-with-fog-november-2013/.

Another fascinating phenomenon made possible by this weather event was the Brocken Spectre with Glory which my husband experienced. With bright sunshine behind him, his shadow was projected onto the fog and a rainbow encircled his shadow. Neither Gene nor I had our cameras with us so we were unable to record what happened but a friend at the canyon (Mike Buchheit) did capture his own experience of this. His photo can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/grandcanyonassoc.

Another experience of the Brocken Spectre with Glory in another part of the world is depicted in the featured photograph (details below):

Glory with Brocken Spectre created by the author’s shadow on a rising cloud at a South ridge of Peak Korzhenvskaya during a summit day on August 14th, 2006, classic route from Moskvina glacier. Part of a photo collection of Pamir 2006 expedition led by Dmitry Shapovalov.