Thursday, September 29, 2022

Pro Life or Pro Birth

 Psalms 139:13-14 (NRSV)

“For it was you who formed my inward parts;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;

that I know very well.”

Many in the pro-birth camp like to pull out these verses as Biblical justification. But if we follow these verses home and see where they live, and compare them with the following lines from Paul, we see a slightly different picture. 

Ephesians 2:10 (NRSV)

“For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”

Colossians 3:10 (NRSV)

“…[clothe] yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.”

And there’s more.

Galatians 5:6 (NRSV)

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.“. 

The point is firmly established here as well.

Genesis 1:27 (NRSV)

“So God created humankind in his image,

in the image of God he created them;

male and female he created them.”

And again Paul says:

1 Corinthians 13:12 (NRSV)

“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Formed my inward parts. Fearfully and wonderfully made in the image and likeness of God. Renewed in knowledge. Created in Christ for good works of faith working through love. Fully known even now by our Creator. Life affirming. Beginning to end. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Be Not Afraid

     Both sets of my grandparents-my mom’s parents and my dad’s parents-immigrated from Europe in, I believe, the early 1900’s (I could be off a bit on the dates). That was back in the days when, if the customs officials couldn’t pronounce a last name they changed it to Smith or Jones. The complex where Ginny and I lived before we moved to Florida became home to immigrants from all over the world-Iraq, Bosnia, Nepal, Russia, India. 

I noticed a interesting phenomenon common to those immigrant families and my immigrant family. The first generation-the elders, my grandparents-retained most if not all their European customs including the language (so they were English-as-second language). The second generation-my parents-retained the the language-as a second language-and some of the customs but were well on the way to ‘Americanization’. By the third generation-me-we we’re completely Americanized (much to my later regret I never learned my grandparents’ languages). Although I didn’t realize it at the time it was a wonderfully rich way to grow up.

I saw the same progression in the immigrant families who lived in my neighborhood. They got jobs, opened small ethnic shops (with lots of really good stuff), bought houses. And when they bought those houses they moved all three generations in. Our school district had an English-as-second-language program that was a model for the entire state. Now, I haven’t been back for several years but when I left things were moving along nicely in a positive direction. 

I say all that to say this-I’m not afraid of becoming a racial (or ethnic-probably already am) minority in my country. Immigrants bring in a richness and diversity that benefits all those willing to embrace it. At our core we are all basically the same. We are all quite literally God’s children and it should be apparent to anyone with a modicum of Biblical knowledge-anyone paying attention-that God loves diversity. So to those who say we are no longer a ‘Christian nation’, I wholeheartedly agree. Where we disagree is why.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Political Stunts and Serious Problems

       Let me try to explain my position on DeSantis’ latest political stunt. First, the situation as I understand it. The immigrants themselves-who came from Venezuela-were in Texas, not Florida. DeSantis paid $615,000 to a transportation company to fly two planes to Texas to pick them up and fly them from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard. This $615,000 came from a $12,000,000 fund approved by the Florida state legislature to “relocate unauthorized aliens”. It is well known in Florida that DeSantis owns the legislature and gets pretty much whatever he wants. 

This raises a few important questions. First, where does that money come from (more on that later). Second, why was Florida money used to transport people from Texas? According to a Northwest Florida Daily News article that showed up in my email today (09/18/2022) one plane stopped briefly in Crestview to refuel; that was the only Florida connection. Are Abbott and DeSantis colluding in some way? Third, is any of this even legal?

Now back to the money, and where it came from. I hear gentle rumblings from social service agencies (one of which I work for) who rely on government grants-federal money, administered by the state of Florida-(in our case Department of Children and Families)-who were promised money that has since been withdrawn. Now, I can’t verify this but I can say we were assured we would be receiving money and then told we would not receive it. This turnaround caused major disruptions for those of us who spend our days trying to house Florida citizens, some of whom now find themselves homeless. Again. 

Which leads me to my final point. We have serious problems in Florida. Homelessness is on the rise. Rental prices are skyrocketing. The entire state is experiencing an affordable housing crisis. My community is experiencing unsustainable growth focused on six-figure housing with more being planned every day. However, related infrastructure needs-schools, medical care facilities (already overworked and understaffed), storm water runoff, roads, traffic control-are not keeping up. 

We are experiencing critical shortages of teachers, school bus drivers, prison guards, health care facilities and workers, especially mental health care. Suicides are up. Mental health facilities are down. Homeowner insurance costs are increasing as insurance companies flee the state. 

These are serious problems that require serious solutions. We do not need a governor wasting taxpayer dollars on political stunts. We do not need a congressman who will “keep fighting” or a senator who’s platform focuses on eliminating Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. We need serious politicians dedicated to serious solutions benefiting all Floridians.