Tag Archives: christian

How is a pastor like a dental hygienist?

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dental crownI ran across some notes I made once after hearing a good message from Dr. Charles Stanley. I don’t agree with all his dogma by any means, so I won’t recommend him in toto, but his message on a particular Sunday morning was a pretty sound one and it got me thinking, as I sometimes do.

His point, with which I agree: there is a difference between intellectually acknowledging the theory of Jesus Christ as the son of God, and actually having a relationship with him. Let’s face it, there are millions of people out there who will say without a moment’s hesitation, “Oh yeah, I believe in God and Jesus” and so they consider themselves Christians. And they do believe he exists, because they were raised that way, that’s what they were taught, that’s what everybody believes, in the same way you believe what your mom tells you she heard about your cousin’s neighbor’s son, whom you also never met. Read the rest of this entry

No haters in Doug’s World!

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break-up-Heartbroken-Missing-You-Broken-Hearted-Letting-Go-Sad-Love-quotes-1748Yesterday the Supreme Court made marriage equality a mandatory right for every citizen in all 50 states. There was of course a lot of celebrating! And I’m happy to say in my world there was not one word spoken in dissent or hate throughout. Not because I don’t have a lot of friends and loved ones. I do. But because in my world after 50 years I’ve culled those who choose to be hateful and negative.

I have people who do not share the same beliefs, but they are loving people who realize that they have no right to impose those beliefs on others. They are also caring people who will never pass by someone in need, who will serve and be kind to anyone who is hurt or injured. They have their own battles to fight with passion, on behalf of children with special needs or of different color. They know and practice one of the great laws: to treat another as you want to be treated, or to love your neighbor as yourself. Read the rest of this entry

By popular request

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wedding-bells-pictures-smallThese days I’m familiar with more and more people who are seeking less preacher-centric relationships with their Higher Power. I’m one of those people as well. In my past I held offices in churches, studied to be an elder, served on committees, and directed choirs, but like so many others, I became dissatisfied with an atmosphere where the emphasis seemed to be on the leader of the house specifying the details of MY personal relationship with the Divine, and making the church experience a social one with the pastor’s superior education and knowledge as the focus.

I considered at one time entering the seminary, but as I was advised by a professor, I don’t have the call to be a pastor. I lack the desire to be a leader. He advised, and rightly so, my heart was in teaching and service. I was surprised to find that it’s regarded as necessary for a pastor to want to be followed. That makes me shudder, so I decided the collar wasn’t for me.

I’ve also always been something of a shadchan, a matchmaker, a Dolly Levi, sticking my hand in and helping God Read the rest of this entry

Doug Tennant is AWESOME!!

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semiahmoo house societyWonder of wonders this morning. I was googling the title of a book (Praying with the Earth: A Prayerbook for Peace) I copied and pasted from a friend’s post and inadvertently included Facebook’s “like” link in the paste, and somehow that google brought up a twitter post by Doug Tennant.

I don’t tweet, so it wasn’t me! I clicked over, intending to flick by some other Doug Tennant’s blog, and then saw “human rights,” “inclusion,” “disabilities.” What the heck is Semiahmoo? His tweet hooked me, and my heart is glad. Just because: I’m an artist, I have two special needs daughters, human rights and civility and grace are ways I try to live my life and share with others, and heck, my name is Doug Tennant.

My daughters are teens now and we live in a small town and sometimes I just don’t know where to go for adequate resources and I worry about their future. And then I see the wonder of Read the rest of this entry

When God Left the Building

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When I was a kid at Minerva Elementary (known then as Mary Irene Day Elementary), they took God out of the school, and I never noticed. Because you know, it wasn’t like they dragged him kicking and screaming from the building. He wasn’t even sternly escorted by Mr. Jenkins, our principal, who in those days still administered cracks with a wooden paddle, the number of which was determined by the severity of a wayward student’s indiscretion. I didn’t notice when God left the building because truth to tell, it didn’t feel like he was ever really there in the first place.

I can remember going to eat lunch in the Cold Lunch Room, a side room from the cafeteria where kids who carried packed lunches were segregated from those who purchased the school’s hot lunch. And I can remember particularly in the third grade, the teacher’s aids who took turns watching over the students and who led grace at the beginning of each midday meal. Most distinct in my memory are Mrs. Jugo, a tall pale stern lady who wore straight line dresses that looked like they were made from upholstery material and who never smiled; Mrs. Holderbaum, first name Nancy, a petite swarthy Mediterranean who sparkled stylishly in pant suits and joked around with the kids; and most of all, Mrs. Dreher, a very large beach ball of a woman in bright cotton dresses with full skirts and bulging black flats who wore her shoe-polish hair piled high in massive loops with razor sharp spit curls pasted to her cheeks. Enormous hoops dangled from her ears and I believed she must be a gypsy. These were the ladies who instructed us to intone in a sing-song warble that sucked all meaning from the words: “God is great, God is good, and we thank him for this food. Ahhhh-men.” Mrs. Holderbaum would get us started and then dart out to the big room to check on things, Mrs. Jugo was the one who felt the burden of duty to castigate those children who failed to close their eyes, while Mrs. Dreher seemed to me to execute the whole ritual with actual distaste. Of course I also heard Mrs. Dreher revile children on numerous occasions and call them things like “little idiots” so I assumed she must be godless anyway. And I remember her asking kids, “Are you going to eat that?” and snatching morsels from their lunches.

Now I don’t mean to offend any descendants of these women and I don’t know that they were anything at all truly like the impressions left in my grade school brain forty-two years ago. I’m saying that these were the most obvious of God’s representatives in my school experience. And to tell the truth, I was raised in a Christian family, but we didn’t engage in a ritual grace at home so the chant we droned in school was completely pointless to me. Nobody ever explained this grace thing, just like nobody to my recollection ever bothered to explain the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance, either. It was just another daily, meaningless exercise of corporate behavior. So the next year when grace was no longer dictated, perhaps we all assumed it was left behind with the other childish practices of third grade. None of the kids in my circle were aware that God had been forcibly removed.

So now days when I hear adults fuss about God being removed from the schools, I don’t doubt that what really irks them is the fact that they’ve been told what can’t be done. Teachers can’t lead all students in corporate prayer or worship to a God that the children may not believe in at home. Well, this is the United States and the founding fathers implemented in the Constitution that the state could not dictate the faith of its people like it did back in Mother England. I think we can all agree that was a good and fair thing, so the government can’t tell us all we must belong to the same church. Basic freedom of religion. So if I want my child to be raised Jewish I send them to Jewish school, or Catholic to Catholic school, but I don’t complain that they don’t get led in meaningless grace at lunch in a public school, because truth to tell, I’ve had enough trouble just setting my kids straight on the erroneous information they’ve occasionally picked up at church.

Does anyone actually believe those brainless chants of “God is great” ever kept a kid from turning to a renegade life of crime and cruelty? Don’t be ridiculous. It’s not the school’s responsibility to instill Christian values, and that can’t be accomplished by staff who may or may not be good Christians enforcing rituals that are never explained and lessons that are never clarified. The Sunday school movement itself was first intended for street kids who didn’t belong to a church and didn’t get any Christian education at home, from their parents. It was never meant to be the means of educating typical children in a walk of faith or Biblical knowledge, but I can tell you for the majority of kids I grew up with, it had become the expected source of Christian edification. Lucky parents were now exempt from the responsibility of teaching their kids themselves. Just like parents expect public school to pick up the slack in teaching manners, courtesy, honesty, and responsibility.

So all you angry screamers declaring that kids are shooting kids because God was removed from the school: God might be missing from the hearts of the people raising those kids. Because God can’t be removed from anyplace, but there are hearts he’s never been invited into. The fact is, Christian clubs and organizations are permitted and do exist on public school grounds, but they can’t be made mandatory for all students. And some of you screamers, watch it before you point fingers and place blame and deny your own responsibility, because I know what kind of example you set for your own kids. You’re most upset because someone is telling you they’re not going to do your job.*

Now. I will say there was one lovely blessed exception to my grade school God-experience, although I didn’t recognize it until years later. My third grade teacher was a wonderful woman named Mrs. Hahn, to this day my favorite of all teachers. She did begin each day of class with a prayer, but it wasn’t leading us to intone something we didn’t comprehend or agree with. She would just talk to God briefly and ask his blessings and protection on the day. It sounded a lot like listening to my mom’s end of a phone conversation with her sister, just talking with someone she knew. She never told us we had to talk to that guy, but it was nice when she did. And Mrs. Hahn would sometimes read us Bible stories, but she treated them like any other literature and would comment on lessons of kindness or strength of character. But mostly, and with no words at all, Mrs. Hahn loved and served with love, reserving judgement and anger. I never felt as safe in any other classroom as I did in hers, because she strove to behave as much as she could like the Jesus she knew. She never preached or expounded, she just lived. That concern, that acceptance, that love, I carry with me even now. That is what every child in public school should be blessed to experience. And that is the place God most resides in public school, regardless of any law. “God is good” can be stricken from the lunch room, but nobody can take him out of the hearts of those who know him.

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*This attitude is most likely what my gorgeous niece Kristine was referring to when she said I’m “slightly arrogant.” I don’t think I’m better than other people, but I do honestly have a fairly high opinion of myself. Basically I just recognize my virtues as well as my faults, I know I am wondrously made, and I don’t believe in false modesty. Is that so wrong?

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