Tuesday, December 12, 2006


At our congregation, we have Care Groups that meet in homes once a month. I have a wonderful group this year. We meet in one of my close friend's homes. Her hospitality and love are very encouraging and special to me. The group is congenial as well, with a pleasant mix of friends I know well and people I am just getting to know. Ron and Linda encourage us to linger and enjoy the fellowship and conversation with each other. I am blessed each time I go.

But sometimes, the conversation heads into politics. This was an election year. And there are many things in our current world that are of concern to Christian people. And there are probably good reasons why people often avoid discussing both politics and religion. God created us to be passionate people. These strong emotions can compel us to make our world a better place. But we are also created as unique beings. We enter life with different personalities. We grow up in different households, in different parts of the country, or even other parts of the world. Our families of origin can be loving and nurturing or cold and harsh. There are many contributing factors to our natural biases. Yes, biases. We think we are fair, knowlegeable, and rational. And for the most part, we are. But there are many natural things that tend to give us "tunnel vision." We all have a different points of view - many times conflicting based upon our life experience, what we read, and who we associate with.

I've talked before about information overload - sensory saturation. Via the internet we can read news and editorials from all over the world. A quick Google Search got me to London Herald Tribune. The headlines that caught my eye - Slum dwellers get free homes in Mumbai, more female fetuses being aborted in India, and Bush's distraction in Iraq has lead to stronger US-China ties. My son follows news threads both from US papers and international papers. While I don't read Al Jazeera on a regular basis, following 9/11 I was reading articles to try to understand why terrorists would fly planes into skyscrapers. I have a tab on my web browser for my local paper Austin American Statesman, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and even my small town local paper, The Hutto News. I also have a My Yahoo page set up with headlines from all sorts of places. I click on some of the articles - spending about 30 minutes reading the headlines that caught my attention. I can't possibly read all of this every day. In many ways I've given up trying to keep up with all the latest news.

I think many things shape our political views - what news we read, from which sources; where we live - big city, small town, agricultural, technilogical, northern, southern; our jobs; our religion; our life experience; and even our economic status. There is no way we will all agree on every issue. I'm not even sure there is a way to research all the information. I spent some time yesterday morning researching the history of the toll roads in Texas. I found some useful information, but not enough. I knew I had other things that needed my attention yesterday. Politics was an annoying distraction to my work flow.

The political discussions had disturbed my inner thoughts and tranquility. I was frustrated on many counts. (Not aggravated with the people, just the wide variety of statements - some of which I knew a different set of information because of my own life experience and things I had paid attention to.) And while I've had the privilege of going to Washington and talking to people both elected Representatives and aides in Senator's and Representative's offices, I've chosen to spend my time in life focused on other things. While one person can make a big difference even on the national level, that requires an enormous investment of time and energy. Most of the time I don't feel called in that direction. But when certain internal buttons get pushed, it is easy to second guess that decision.

My morning quiet times have helped calm my inner waters. From Alexandra Stoddard's Grace Notes: " No one can disturb your center unless you allow them to. Has anyone upset you lately? Don't let their angst interfere with your grace. You are not in control of them, but you are in control of yourself."

This morning from my "One Year Bible:
" My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my sould within me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forever more."

I have chosen to try to concentrate my efforts on making the immediate world around me a better place. I can do small things. This passage affirms me - I don't have to be concerned with "great matters", God is truly in charge, I can be quiet as a small child. Even though it does not always feel like it, God has this world in his loving hands. I can put my hope in him.

Will there be opportunities for me to do things on a larger scale . . . . perhaps. But my job right now is to live one day at a time focused on trying to do God's will for me each day.

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