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Well, I really don’t want to be involved in politics in any way. However, since the ugly behavior after this historic election has dipped into my religious beliefs (will explain in this blog), and I do like to blog on Christianity, I decided after thoughtful prayer that I must address the hate seen in America today. It affects Christianity because a lot of people who call themselves “Christian” are not acting in a Christian manner. This behavior may instill negative views about Christians, so I feel a need to clarify a few things, even going so far as to call out some of my fellow “Christians”. It’s a bit lengthy but worth the read in my opinion 🙂
Hypocrisy. Jesus warns us over and over again about hypocrisy throughout the gospels:
“You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to give it water?” Luke 13:15
“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others.” Matthew 6:2
“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.” Matthew 7:5
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” Matthew 23:25
These are just a few.
So how does this relate to the election? Well, both sides are so quick to throw insults at the other side,but each candidate has their own long list of issues. I recently saw a meme of a woman crying, and it said “I argued with conservatives, they used facts”. Well, I will now present many facts showing that neither side should be throwing insults at anyone.
Let me start by saying that I did not support either Clinton or Trump during this election. I saw serious problems with both candidates. What bothers me most and the reason I decided to write this blog is that the amount of the hypocrisy and hate that is out there. And it is coming from both sides!
Let’s start with a little background on Hillary. Here is a list of issues that have concerned voters:
- Clinton Foundation issues – the pay-to-play scheme between Hillary and the Clinton Foundation has led to serious issues and concerns. There is a strong possibility of an indictment. Although Mrs. Clinton signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that she would not accept money from foreign governments during her years as Secretary of State, the Foundation did accept several million from seven different foreign governments. According to CNN, some e-mails between top Clinton aides were suspicious and added that these e-mails “raise questions about the Clinton Foundation’s influence on the State Department and its relations during her tenure…” In October, 2016, the Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI was collecting information about the Clinton Foundation to determine if there was any evidence of financial crimes.¹
- Whitewater scandal – tax evasion and fraud were found. Vince Foster, the primary legal council for the case, committed suicide which cast a very dark cloud over the Clintons and their involvement.
- E-mail scandal – Hillary’s use of a private e-mail server during her years as Secretary of State has led to a very prolonged investigation. Although she has been cleared as of now, questions still remain.
- Leaked e-mails show that there may have been some behind-the-scenes attempts to get Bernie Sanders out of the picture during the election process.
- Hillary told the story of how she was under sniper fire when she landed in Bosnia; however, the video of her exiting the plane clearly shows this not to be true.
- The Benghazi scandal – this was a very clear a and definite failure on the part of the State Department. She lied about the cause saying it was a result of an anti-Islam video. She was also able to skirt around taking responsibility for the loss of four lives during the attack.
- Bill Clinton’s sexual history – Juanita Broaddick accused Mr. Clinton of raping her in the late 1970s. She denied the rape for many years but recently accused him again. Paula Jones filed a lawsuit against him in 1994 in which she claims he exposed himself to her. During the deposition, Clinton denied having an affair with Monica Lewinsky which we all know now was a lie. The lawsuit ended with an out-of-court settlement. Kathleen Wiley claimed that Clinton had groped her, but her testimony was thrown out because it was determined that she had lied repeatedly.²
Now, here are the issues surrounding Trump:
- Trump Foundation issues – The Foundation gave $25,000 to the Florida Attorney General’s office (Pam Bondi) while she was reviewing fraud allegations against Trump University. Her office didn’t bring any charges against the Trump Foundation, and there is some concern that this may have been bribery. The Foundation used some of its money to settle legal disputes with Trump’s for-profit businesses, and some of the money may have also been used for political purposes during his presidential campaign. In October, they were ordered to cease fundraising for the Foundation because they were violating state law by soliciting donations without prior authorization.³
- Trump has used bankruptcy laws to get out of paying debt, leaving his workers to foot the bill. He also refuses to release his tax returns.
- Trump University – now defunct, the state of New York has filed a $40 million lawsuit stating that false claims were made and that the University defrauded people. Trump was found personally liable for failing to obtain a business license.
- Trump has been married three times and has had multiple affairs.
- Trump’s sexual issues – First of all, Trump himself admitted on a 2005 Howard Stern show that he entered the dressing rooms of beauty pageant contestants while they were undressing. Second – the October 2016 release of the audio clip from Access Hollywood caused a huge uproar when he made multiple inappropriate comments, particularly “grab them by the p***y”. Third, multiple women have accused him of sexual harrassment. Jill Harth filed a lawsuit in 1997 saying that Trump attempted to put his hands between her legs in 1992. She also states that he pushed her against the wall and tried to kiss her. The case was settled out of court. Jessica Leeds claimed that while on a flight (1980s), Trump attempted to put his hand up her skirt and grabbed her breast. In the 1990s, Kristen Anderson claimed he groped her at a Manhattan night club. And there are quite a few more.(4)
OK, so now that we have the background, let’s look at some of the mean, hateful things that are being posted around the internet. First we’ll do the anti-Hillary stuff:
- I’ve seen quite a few people refer to Hillary as narcissistic.
- REALLY?? Trump is the definition of narcissism. Clear hypocrisy.
- Someone was happy that a person was shot at the Azusa polling station in California, saying “At least they are killing CA liberals”.
- This one speaks for itself, but I will say it anyway – look in the mirror. Look at your own candidate!
- I can’t even count the number of times Hillary has been called “crooked”.
- I can agree as we all know she is corrupt, but look above at what Trump has done.
- “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7
- “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgement you make you will be judged…” Matthew 7:1. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want to be judged by those measures. If you decide to judge either candidate, be my guest. I would be careful, though, especially when both candidates have such a long history of issues….
- There’s a meme which says “Hi, I’m Chris Hansen with Dateline NBC. Why don’t you take a seat?” There is a picture with Hillary walking in the room.
- We could EASILY put Trump’s picture in place of Hillary’s picture. Clear hypocrisy.
- Another meme – Picture of Hillary and it says “This loser will never be president. Get over it losers.”
- Let’s remember this Bible verse: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5
- Picture of Hillary with the caption, “Satan, why have you forsaken me?”
- Again, look at the list of issues above regarding Donald Trump.
- Again,“Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7
- Another meme – “Pro-God, Pro-Country, Pro-Life, Proud to be Pro-Trump, 2016”.
- Pro-God? Jesus preaches kindness and compassion. Where is Trump’s compassion when he makes fun of a disabled person? Where is his kindness when he calls people “weak” or “a disaster” when they don’t agree with him (which, BTW, is also extremely narcissistic)?
Now for the anti-Trump comments:
- I saw a sweatshirt with the following statement: “Trump sucks. If you like Trump, you suck too.”
- REALLY?? Look at Hillary’s list of issues above.
- Many make fun of his hair and the orange-colored makeup on his face.
- All I can say is let’s remain focused on the issues. This is nit-picking and not necessary.
- There is a Wizard of Oz meme saying that Trump “doesn’t have a brain”.
- Again, not necessary. We need to stick to the issues.
- I saw a news report where a Chicago man was beaten and his car was stolen, all because he voted for Trump.
- Awful!!! We as Americans have the right to vote as we wish without the threat of violence.
- There are some people who are carrying around “Kill Trump” signs during the protests.
- Any threat of violence is unacceptable and should never be tolerated.
- I know of someone who was called “racist” for voting for Trump.
- Putting everyone in one big category is just wrong. Yes, there are racists out there, but just because someone voted for Trump doesn’t mean he/she is automatically a racist. Some that voted for him did so because of the Supreme Court as they want more conservative judges to occupy those positions. They are not hateful, racist bigots.
- I read that the CEO of GrubHub told his employees that if they supported Trump, they need to resign.
- This again is unacceptable and just plain wrong. We live in a democracy, and we all have the right to vote as we wish.
Now, to finish out this blog, I want to address how religion ties into all of this.
Neither Clinton nor Trump supporters really have any right to throw insults at the other candidate. Each candidate has baggage, and to finger-point is completely and totally hypocritical on both sides.
I know that some people were told to vote for Trump in order to get conservative judges in the Supreme Court. I do understand this reasoning as I struggled with it as well. It was a very real concern, and that is one reason why I am happy that Trump is now president. But that’s the only reason.
Franklin Graham recently made this statement: “I believe God’s hand intervened Tuesday night to stop the godless, atheistic, progressive agenda from taking control.” This statement does not make sense nor does it support Christianity. Donald Trump is an adulterer, a self-proclaimed greedy man, and someone who has left the small businessman out in the cold by filing bankruptcy even though he has billions. Take a look again at the list above. Does this man really sound like the type of person Jesus calls us to be?? Of course not. Franklin, I would re-think that comment. Wayne Grudem called Trump a “flawed candidate”, but thankfully he stated that he regretted that comment and he changed his opinion, asking for Trump to drop out of the race prior to the election. Sin is sin, and immorality is immorality. You cannot call someone a sinner and then turn around and call someone else “flawed”. Again, that is hypocrisy.
Politifact states that Trump’s statements are verifiably false 76% of the time (DallasNews.com), so we can safely say that Trump lies. Whatever happened to “Thou shalt not lie?” For all those who praised God for the election of Donald Trump, did you conveniently forget all the sins this man has committed? Yes, I do believe in forgiveness, but this man hasn’t repented as far as I can tell. He needs to truly apologize, especially to women (not saying it’s just locker room talk) and to the disabled. According to what is written in the Bible (and that’s all I can go on), I would venture to say that God isn’t happy with either of the candidates. I would bet He isn’t happy with America. Why?? Because none of us can get out of our own way to actually see the truth, and the truth is that we are all hypocrites.
Jesus taught us to be kind. He gave us the Ten Commandments which He expects us to follow. He expects us to love one another. To love our neighbors as ourselves. Christianity is centered around kindness, mercy, forgiveness, empathy, love, and faith. So-called “Christians” who can do nothing more than send out a constant stream of hateful posts, messages, videos, etc. are not practicing true Christianity. I don’t want those who are not Christian to look at us and think “what hypocrites!” Many do, and it’s the result of this kind of behavior. I want these non-Christians to know that true Christianity does not condone this kind of behavior. Jesus NEVER taught us that violence, distasteful comments, hateful memes, gloating over an election win, lying, adultery, etc. was alright. It is NEVER alright. We are to love each other just as God loves us and we are to follow His commands. I am ashamed at the behavior of some of the American citizens right now, especially those who say they are Christian but don’t act it. I think it’s time for people to stand back, look at all the facts, think about what they have done and then re-evaluate their behavior. We need to act like true Christians, not hateful hypocrites.
The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright ©1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.
Several months ago, my aunt recommended that I read three books by the author Paula D’Arcy that had really impacted her. The Gift of the Red Bird: Story of a Divine Encounter really spoke to me as I recently had what I believed was a divine encounter with some finches (see my previous blog). She described how she was able to feel closer to God by being alone in nature, and this made me think. How could I feel closer to God while living in the city? Where could I go?
I remembered a special place that my friend Sharon had taken me several years ago…a Benedictine monastery. It was so peaceful there, and it seemed like the perfect place to go for meditation and prayer in this busy area. At this particular monastery, there was a labyrinth. Sharon told me a little bit about the background of a labyrinth as I knew nothing about it. Basically, it is a place to go to spend some quiet time with God away from all the hustle and bustle of the day and to get clarity for any problems through prayer and meditation.
A labyrinth is a type of maze that only has a single track, so you can’t get lost in it. It has been around for thousands of years and is present in many churches around the world. The belief is that if you walk the labyrinth, you will go through three stages:
1. Purgation – you are released from all the worries of the world while walking through the winding paths
2. Illumination – a divine revelation as a result of meditation and prayer. This occurs at the center
3. Union – reflection on what you have learned as you make your way out of the labyrinth.
Well, I thought about the labyrinth while reading Paula’s book, but I didn’t go immediately as life got in the way. I was so busy writing and working on my house that I just couldn’t find the time. Then, one night, I started to read the next book by Paula D’Arcy – Seeking With All My Heart: Encountering God’s Presence Today. Amazingly, early in the book she had an entire chapter on the labyrinth! I knew at that moment that I had to make the time to visit the Benedictine Monastery.
Several days ago, I finally went and spent quite a bit of time by myself in that quiet place. No one else was around. There were many things on my mind at the time, but mostly I thought about how my life had changed since my divorce. Five years ago, I had this life of lab work, dance, and a twenty-year marriage. Now, all of that had been taken from me. Why did that happen? I had been plagued by that thought over the years.
As I started to walk the labyrinth, the first thing that I noticed was that my mind quieted. I felt God telling me to be quiet and just listen. Just listen to the birds and crickets. Just feel the slight breeze blowing on my face. Just be still and listen.
As I walked, I began to think about how the labyrinth mirrors life. We walk straight ahead in one direction, and then suddenly we are forced to turn in the opposite direction, just like what happened to me five years ago. Do the curves in the labyrinth represent our difficult/challenging times? Was this God telling me that sometimes the path we walked previously is no longer to our benefit? Is there something on that path that could hurt us, so He is taking us in a different direction?
“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
As I continued to walk, I noticed that some of the bends in the labyrinth were hard to maneuver without falling a little off the path. I noticed that my momentum brought me one direction while the path directed me another way. This made me think about easy it is to lose our way in difficult times. It is easy to get discouraged, depressed, or fall into a sinful life when challenges arise. I was intrigued.
The next thing I noticed is that the stones around the curves are very small in relation to the stones in the straight areas. This made me think about how, in difficult times, we have to take “baby steps” to get through it. For example, during the divorce, my strength was sapped and I just couldn’t do as much as I did when I was married. We talked at length about this exact thing in my divorce support group. We were told that some days, we would find it hard to even get out of bed. For me, these small stones so accurately depicted what happens to us, physically and mentally, during difficult times. We have to be patient with ourselves and take “baby steps” until we eventually get back to our normal lives (the larger stones).
Other ideas came to me as I continued on the journey. Some areas of the labyrinth have longer areas without bends while other areas are shorter. This also mirrors life as some times we will have longer periods of peace and stability while at other times, it comes in short spurts. Also, some of the bends are a complete 180 degrees (lots of change) while other bends are 90 degrees (some small change). Finally, I realized that some of the bends could actually represent good times that are also stressful (marriage, a move, etc).
But the biggest lesson I learned that day is when I walked into the center of the labyrinth. I realized that no matter what we go through, if we stay on the path to God, it will lead us to salvation. The little bends in that labyrinth cannot even be compared to the beauty of walking into the center of the labyrinth. I realized that if I stay on that path, even through the difficult times, it will ultimately lead me to God. Straying off the path into a sinful life is not an option. I just have to trust in Him, keep my eyes on Him, and walk through that narrow door.
“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22
This morning, I woke up to pain in my hip, leg, shoulder, and neck. This is a regular occurrence for me now. This pain has been happening for years, but I wrote it off for a long time as a result of either stress, bad posture, or side effects of my back surgeries (I’ve had three spinal fusions). Recently, the pain has become almost intolerable at times, and I began to notice that it was affecting too many of my joints to just write it off anymore. I decided to visit a rheumatologist after my family physician recommended it.
After my first visit, I had eight tubes of blood drawn from my arm. Yes – eight! To my shock, some of the results came back abnormal, one of them being the ANA test. This tests looks for autoantibodies in the body, and if it is positive, it means that there may be an autoimmune disorder present.
I went back for a second visit, and eight more tubes of blood were taken from my arm. So, I’ve had sixteen tubes of blood drawn in the course of about a month. These new tests are more specific tests for an array of autoimmune diseases, one of which is lupus. I don’t have the results yet but should get them by the end of this week.
So…back to this morning. I woke up in pain. It is really hard to get up out of bed with a smile on my face when I feel pain all over my body from the moment I open my eyes. Today was a struggle, so I picked up my the Bible on my dresser – the Catholic Women’s Devotional Bible. Before opening it, I sat down in a chair, closed my eyes and prayed.
I first praised God for allowing Jesus to die on the cross for me, and then I asked for forgiveness of my sins. I then became a little emotional asking him for help to get through the day. Suddenly, I felt the strong sensation that Jesus was by my side trying to comfort me. I sat in silence for a few moments and then just poured my struggles out to Him. I told Him that I just wanted some peace. I felt Him say to me, “Hold out your hand.” I know that may sound strange to some people, but I felt like he wanted me to hold out my hand so that He could just hold my hand. I didn’t understand this, but I did what I felt like He wanted me to do. Right at that moment, my cat, who is quite stand-offish, came up to me, rubbed repeatedly against my foot and purred really loud. This was unusual behavior for her, and I just wondered if she could sense something. Anyway, I petted her, and then closed my eyes again. I told Jesus that I always feel like He speaks to me through His Word, so I asked Him to help me to open my Bible to what He wanted me to read today.
Well, I opened it to Lamentations 3. As I read it, I was so comforted. Here are a few verses that really struck me today:
“He has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones; he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation….he has put heavy chains on me…” Lamentations 3: 4-5, 7 (NRSV)
“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him…It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord…to sit alone in silence when the Lord has imposed it.” Lamentations 3:25, 28 (NRSV)
“I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit; you heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear to my cry for help, but give me relief!’ You came near when I called on you; you said ‘Do not fear’!” Lamentations 3:55-57 (NRSV). This verse in particular comforted me because I went through probably the roughest time in my life back in 2012. I literally cried out to Him many, many times, and He brought me through that terrible time to a much better place. I was reminded of this as I read this passage, and I knew that even though I am hurting, He will bring me through it just as He has done in the past.
But the most amazing thing that I saw after I read these passages in Lamentations was the title of the devotional on that same page – “God, Hold My Hand”! Right as I saw it, I felt like Jesus was smiling at me, and I was stunned! This devotional was written by Barbara Vogel and talks about a very tough time in her life. However, she found comfort in Lamentations 3. She states at the end of her devotional:
“Lamentations 3 has indeed been the very hand of God holding ours.”
No matter how bad things are in our lives – physical, mental or emotional pain – God is ALWAYS by our side. Even when things seem disastrous, just hold onto God’s hand – He will get you through it. Trust in Him!
“When all the prisoners of the land are crushed under foot, when human rights are perverted in the presence of the Most High, when one’s case is subverted – does the Lord not see it?” Lamentations 3:34-36 (NRSV)
*Devotional by Barbara Vogel taken from The Catholic Women’s Devotional Bible (NRSV), (1989), Zondervan, pg. 1084.