Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Anatomy, Attraction, Attitude and Appearance

October 8, 2017

There has been a lot of discussion over the past couple of years about individuals who are transgender and how society should accommodate them, specifically in regards to restrooms and locker rooms.  Although I am a pastor, I am also a philosophy instructor.  This article is not meant to be religious in nature, there will be no scriptural references, nor will I comment on the moral or religious implications, as that would limit it’s application to those who agree with me from a religious viewpoint.  I am attempting to reason with a larger audience, for the sake of social harmony.

I would like to begin with the topic of anatomy.  The vast majority of people are born with either a vagina or a penis. ( I understand that some people are indeed born with both.  This article will address that only briefly in the section on special circumstances. ) On a person’s birth certificate they are marked as either female or male on the basis of their genitalia.  This anatomical feature is a straight forward, external, physical characteristic that anyone can easily identify.

A second issue, that is completely separate from anatomy, is sexual attraction.  Some individuals are attracted to the same sex, others are attracted to the opposite sex.  Some are attracted to both and some to neither.  This is an internal characteristic of individuals that cannot be discerned from external appearance.  It also is something that can change through a person’s lifetime.  It can, at times, be confusing as a person struggles with their sexuality.

A third issue is what I am calling attitude.  By this, I am referring to personality traits.  Earlier in western culture these traits were identified as masculine or feminine traits.  In the 21st century it has been realized that personality traits are not necessarily dictated by either one’s anatomy or one’s sexual attraction.  People who have traits that have historically been identified as masculine or feminine may think that they were born in the wrong body, since their traits do not match up with historical, cultural. preconceptions.  This can be confusing and is based on the false belief that personality traits are associated with anatomy.  They are not.  People with male anatomy do not all have the same personality traits.  People with female anatomy do not have the same personality traits.  Each person is a unique combination.

Appearance is my final category.  Our culture does have certain social patterns of dress and behavior that have historically been associated with males and females.  Sometimes in today’s culture individuals with male anatomy may dress and act so as to appear female and individuals with female anatomy may seek to appear as male.  As long as they are clothed they may very well succeed in this attempt.

For the sake of public harmony people should use the restroom that is designated by their anatomy.  However, we can allow some exceptions.  As already stated some people intentionally seek to appear opposite to their actual anatomy.  Most restrooms have stalls that are private so no one is going to observe the actual anatomy of a person using the facilities.  If a male is dressed convincingly as a female and goes to use the male bathroom they will create far more commotion than if they use the one that is consistent with their appearance.  However if a male is using a female bathroom they should sit as a female would, even if it is not necessary, to keep up the appearance of being female.  Remember, the idea here is to allow people to live in peace with each other, without causing offense, if  possible.

Locker rooms are a different story.  Locker rooms should be designated by anatomy.  Anatomy is easily identified at a single glance.  Individuals with male genitalia and individuals with female genitalia should use separate locker rooms.  For those individuals who like to dress as women. but still have male anatomy, they should use the anatomically correct facilities.  In all of the locker rooms that I have been in there is no privacy.  When you undress and shower your anatomy will show.  You might like to dress as a woman, but if you have a penis you shouldn’t be changing and showering in the women’s locker room and vice a versa.

There are some special situations.  Individuals who once had male genitalia but no longer do, fall into one of two categories.  They either had some form of injury or a surgical procedure.  For those who lost their genitalia due to an injury, they should still be allowed to use the facilities that they used before the injury.  For those who have been surgically altered, they should use the facilities that match their new genitalia.   For those who were born with both, they should use the facilities with which they most closely identify.

I have intentionally not used the term gender in this article because it is a term that has so many meanings that it is now basically without meaning.  I have chosen instead to focus on anatomy, attraction, attitude and appearance.  I believe that these terms are more appropriate.

Our society should be taught not to mistreat people who are different. We should seek to live in peace and harmony, respecting each others individuality as much as possible. This does not mean that we cannot interact, seeking to bring about change in either individuals or society, but it does mean that we should do so in a courteous and respectful manner.

This article is not meant to be the final word, but only a contribution to the ongoing discussion.  It is not suggested as an ideal, but as a compromise.

 

 

 

 

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To Our Fathers

June 20, 2016

I came across this poem that I wrote for Father’s Day back in June of 2000.  I thought that I would share it with you.

 

The job of father is not well defined.

One thing is for sure- it is full time.

Traditional chores of the trash and the yard

of fixing the broken

and of taking charge.

A father’s expected to provide and protect

but nowadays more expectations are met.

A father may help to cook and to clean

and in men’s restrooms changing tables are seen.

A father’s expected to advise and to scold

and then there’s the reason that a child is told

“Just wait, till your father gets home!”.

It’s a mystery at times,

what a dad’s supposed to do.

He may feel inadequate, confused or blue.

So it’s a good thing we’ve a Father above

who can offer us help with His Great Love.

As we turn to God with our fathering skills,

He will help us indeed, as we seek His will.

And so to our fathers on Father’s Day

remember God is our father

and seek to do things His way.

Pastor Curt

June 2000

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Time Matters

May 14, 2015

The last time that I remember being bored was the winter of 1982-83 in Beirut, Lebanon.  I was serving in the Marine Corps and was a part of the multinational peacekeeping force.  A part of my duties was to stand twelve hours of guard duty every other day.  Six hours on, six hours off, repeat.  Standing guard for twelve hours on the perimeter of an airport where you normally did not see anyone was conducive to boredom.

That was a long time ago.

Now, I have far more things to do than I have time or energy to do.  Since I have so much to do I find it helpful to make a daily list.  This list is kept on my computer and updated each work day.

The first thing on my list is the Today category.  In this category I list those things that are scheduled for that day, or that really should be done that day.  The minimum goal is to have those things completed each day.

The second category is Daily.  This category lists those things that I would like to do on a daily basis.  These are good, routine things that I try to make a part of each day.  This list includes things like make list, take vitamins, read the paper, do some other reading, pick up around the house, do some weeding, and so forth.  I really want to get these things done each day, but sometimes it doesn’t happen.

The third category is Should Do.  This list contains a list of things that I should do, that are waiting to be done.  Once the first two parts of my list have been completed, if I have any time or energy left, then I turn my attention to this list.  On a good day, I will get numerous things scratched off this list.

The fourth category is Call/Contact.  I place peoples names on this part of the list that I need to call or visit.

The final category is Could Do.  This part of the list is all of those things that I would like to do if I can find the time.  Sadly, if an item is on this part of the list, it is not forgotten, but it may never get done.  It’s only real hope is that someday I may feel the desire to bump it up into the Should Do category.

The nice thing about the list is that it helps me to stay organized.  I can get the things done that I need to get done.  I can have a sense of accomplishment as things are scratched off the list.  If I am having a day that is overwhelming, or that I am just not very with it, I simply go to the next thing on the list, do it, and check it off.  My wife can provide input to help me in prioritizing my day so that important things are not left out.  It works well for me.

Some people do not like lists.  They feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume, or they feel that everything must be done.

I can assure you.  Everything on my list will not be done today…or this week….or possibly ever.

I can live with that.

It is merely a tool by which I organize my time.  So if you want me to do something, I will write it down,  get it on my list, and it will get done…eventually.

The Acceptable, the Good and the Perfect

May 7, 2015

I am a percussionist.  I have played percussion instruments in performance groups and in worship teams for over thirty-five years.   As a percussionist, I have a fairly large collection of instruments.  I have a vibraphone, marimba, orchestra bells, timpani, congas, bongos, tempo blocks, cowbells, tambourines, a guiro, afuche, claves, various types of shakers, and more.

I played drums and percussion in school.  There was music.  I played what was written.  When I was first asked to play in church, I asked if there was music.  The director laughed, told me no, and that he would teach me to improvise.

Now I hardly ever use written music.

One of the challenges that  a percussionist faces is determining what instrument is going to be the best choice for a particular song, or part of a song.  Personally, I pray that I will be inspired by God’s Spirit to best be in tune with the worship that is taking place.  Paul speaks of singing in the Spirit, my goal is to play in the Spirit.

Last night during the worship service, as I was selecting which instrument to play, it occurred to me that it was a good illustration of our life choices.  In the same way that I have many instruments from which I can choose to play, I also have many ways in which I can spend my time.  In fact, I have far more things that I could do, than I could possibly have time or energy to do.

I could play many instruments and sound decent, but there is only one instrument that would be best.  It is the same in life, the challenge is to select the best thing to do with our time at any given moment.

I am still working on that.

Romans 12: 1-2

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

In playing my instruments, I want to be the best that I can be.  In life, my desire is to be in the perfect will of God, not just the good, or the merely acceptable, but the perfect.  I am glad that God accepts me in my imperfection, but I want to be the best that I can be in my service to God, not just as a musician, but in all areas of my life.

I hope that is true for you as well.

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How to Survive an Encounter With Police

March 5, 2015

The headlines of our local paper yesterday chided the Ferguson police for racial bias.

A homeless man was shot in Los Angeles.  The public is outraged.

Perhaps we should look at the other side of the issue.  How should we behave in an encounter with police?

Michael Brown assaulted the police officer.  The bruises and scrapes are clear in the photos.

The police claim that the homeless man was grabbing for the gun of one of the officers.  After the incident, an officer’s gun(one who did not shoot) was half-cocked, with a bullet partially ejected.  It is cited as evidence of the struggle for the gun.

In addition to questioning police action, we should focus on our action.  We should not punch police officers.  We should not try to take their guns.  In all of the articles that I saw after the Ferguson incident, I only saw one comment made about how the public should act in an encounter with police.  It was an African-American police chief who said that the advice that he gave his own children was simple.

Cooperate with the police and move slowly. 

In the last year three men who have died at the hands of police have made national news.  The focus has always been on the action of the police.  The fact is; the police have a dangerous job.  In our area, a while back, a deputy sheriff was shot in the face and killed while serving an arrest warrant.  In the months since these three men have died at the hands of police, I wonder how many law enforcement officers have died?  Their deaths do not often make the national news.  Their job is to protect and to serve, but they must also protect themselves.  We do not often see the footage of police officers being killed in the line of duty, but I am certain that they are used in training police officers.  They want to be able to go home at the end of their shift and they want to be able to live with themselves.  I am certain that the vast majority of officers are not looking for an excuse to kill someone.

Cooperate with the police and move slowly.

It could save your life.

 

Plans, Promises, and Truthfulness

February 12, 2015

Years ago, when I started this blog, I wrote an article four times a week.  Those articles were about all kinds of different topics.  For quite a while now, I have been simply posting sermon notes.  I am going to try to get back to writing articles on a variety of topics.  The sermon notes will still come out on Mondays.  On Thursdays, I will be writing something different. At least, that is the plan.  Please feel free to make comments on anything that I write.  I enjoy interaction.  Thank you. 

Have you ever wondered what the world would look like if everyone was truthful?  If everyone kept their word?  If everyone kept their promises? This world would be a better place.

A number of years ago, I told my philosophy class that I tried to always tell the truth.  They laughed.  Apparently, they thought that I was lying, because, of course, everyone lies, at least in their minds. That memory has stayed with me as a sad commentary on society today.

I do not mean that we have to share every thought that goes through our minds. Some things we can keep to ourselves.

Sometimes, it is important to use tact when speaking the truth.  If we speak the truth with the right attitude, in the right way, at the right time,  it is a very good thing.  This is not always easy to do.

Wouldn’t it be nice if people kept their word?  If we tell someone we are going to do something, we should do it.  This is especially important in the business world.  If we hire someone to do some kind of work and they take the money but don’t do the work, then we are cheated.  On the other hand, if someone does the work, but isn’t paid, then they are cheated.  Unfortunately, this sort of thing happens far too often. It makes us suspicious of people.  Until someone has proven themselves, we may not trust them.

Promise keeping is especially important.  When my children were young, I wanted to impress on them the importance of keeping promises.  One way that I did that was to use promises very sparingly.  I would tell my children that I was planning to do something, but that sometimes plans have to change.  That way if something came up, and I had to change my plans, I was not breaking a promise.  When I did make a promise, I made sure that it was something that I could keep.

Incidentally, wedding vows are a form of promise.  For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, forsaking all others for as long as we both shall live.   This is not something to be taken lightly.  There may be bad days, but your commitment to each other should bring you through them.

Maybe we cannot transform the entire world, but we can change a little part of it.  May we learn to be truthful people who keep our word.

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Justice and Forgiveness

April 10, 2014

Last night in our Bible study at church, we were discussing the Lord’s Prayer and the emphasis on forgiveness.

And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.  (Luke 11:4)

We were in agreement that it is necessary for us to forgive those who have wronged us.

Then someone asked about justice.  Just the day before, a family had observed the one year anniversary of a tragic event.  A baby had been shaken by his father, causing severe damage.  The child went through months of seizures, and has lasting damage that, unless miraculously healed by God, will likely be permanent.  While the baby fought for his life, and while the mother and family dealt with the multiple treatments, seizures, and ongoing effects, the father moved out, and was free to go about his business while the justice system went through the various steps leading eventually to conviction and confinement.  The family was, and is, concerned about justice.  A wrong had been done, a penalty should be paid.

How do we reconcile forgiveness and justice?  This blog does not claim to present the final solution to that problem, but rather, a starting point for thought, and perhaps discussion.

I would suggest that forgiveness is an act of an individual, while justice is a function of society.  Forgiveness is an attitude that allows us to let go of the anger, resentment and hatred that poisons our hearts.  Justice is a necessary component of society that punishes wrongdoers, thus preventing us from taking matters into our own hands.

It would be wrong to think that God only supports forgiveness.  The Mosaic Law set forth laws, and punishments for those that broke the law.  These penalties were considered to be just.  It would be wrong to think that the God of the New Testament, with the emphasis on forgiveness; and the God of the Old Testament, with an emphasis on judgement, are incompatible, or different Gods.  God is both just and forgiving.

There are consequences to wrongdoing.  These consequences can be both temporal and eternal.  God is both merciful and just.  We can be forgiven the eternal consequences of our sins, and still face the temporal consequences of our actions.

For the believer who has been wronged, it is important for us to forgive the wrongdoers and leave the consequences for their actions in the hand of God.

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)

Clearly there is a tension between justice and forgiveness.  As individuals we must forgive those who have wronged us.  As a society we must pursue justice for those who have been wronged.  The Holy Spirit can help us have the ability to forgive in our hearts,  and the wisdom to pursue justice in our land.

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ACA Loophole

March 21, 2013

I was reading in my local paper an article about changes that the County Conservation Board would be making in the future.  They regularly employ individuals for seasonal work.  These employees work forty hour weeks, some of them for more than four months.  Under the Affordable Care Act the county will be required to provide health coverage for these individuals.  Some of these people are actually retired, covered by Medicare.  The county will still be required to provide health coverage under the ACA.  Anyone working more than thirty hours a week for more than four months  must be provided health insurance or the employer will face penalties.

The solution is likely to be either limit the employee to four months, or more likely, reduce the weekly hours to less than thirty hours a week, and hire more people to make up the hours.  This will allow the county to still get the work done and not have to provide coverage.

I strongly suspect that there will be a lot of companies that will take advantage of this loophole.  Instead of providing health care, they will simply have more employees, working less than thirty hours.

This, of course, will mean that their employees will make less money, and be legally responsible for their own health care.  This health care will be made available at lower rates, subsidized by the government, adding to the financial burden placed on our country.

In addition, the workers will most likely need to find additional employment, working a second job to provide enough income to meet their needs.

I am concerned about the future for workers, employers, the medical field, and our government.

Why Run 24 Hours?

May 10, 2012

I am still recovering from the 24 hour run that I participated in this past weekend.  My muscles are no longer sore, but some of the blisters on my feet have healed, and some are still an issue.

Why do a 24 hour run?

It is not for health reasons.  You don’t have to run for 24 hours to experience health benefits.  Actually, there are definite health risks involved, besides blisters and sore muscles, the possibility of joint issues arising is very real.

It is not really for competition.  I know that I am not good enough to be competitive.  Although this years winner was 58, so maybe I will improve with time.

It’s not really for fun.  I do enjoy participating but it stops being much fun after about forty miles.

I do it for the personal physical and mental challenge.

It’s not really about how I do, compared with others.  It is about what I can do compared with myself.  This year I improved my distance by 13 miles.  I am already thinking about a goal for next year.  I realize that it might be a little bit crazy, but I enjoy the challenge of seeing what I can do.

I think I can do better next year.

My 2nd 24hr Run

May 8, 2012

This past Saturday I participated in my second 24 hour run.  That does not mean that you run for 24 hours, but that you have 24 hours to complete as much distance as you can by running, walking or crawling.

There are two types of 24 hour run: the track  run and the trail run.  Just like they sound, the track run is run on a standard track, and the trail run is on trails.  Both involve doing as many laps as you are capable of completing in the time allowed.  I participate in a track run.

Last year was my first attempt at a 24 hour run.  I ran two laps, and walked one for as long as I could.  Eventually, I ran less and walked more.  By fifty miles, and in the 14th hour,  my feet hurt with every step, and I called it quits.

This year I tried something a little different.  I still started out by  running two laps and then walking one, but this time every three hours I took off my running shoes and walked three laps in a pair of moccasins.  Then I put on a fresh pair of socks and went back to running two, walking one.  This strategy worked well for me.  I completed 63.65 miles and my feet were still feeling OK.

There was a different challenge this year.  Last year it was cool and cloudy, this year it was sunny and in the mid 80’s with plenty of humidity.  Even with applying lotion every hour, I still began to burn.  Plus, running in the heat is clearly more draining.

Once again, I did not complete the entire 24 hr period.  I called it quits in the 19th hour.  I had reached my goal of 100k and did not have sufficient motivation to push through to the end.

It was a good second attempt.  We will see what happens next year.