Tag Archives: Peace

Solutions

I am happy, and I want to tell you why. It’s not the kind of happy that you feel when you get some free time after a busy day or week or year. It’s not the kind of happy you feel after getting a really nice gift. It’s not the kind of happy you feel when you accomplish something great. It’s not the kind of happy you feel when you’re with your best friend. I know I just covered a whole bunch of different kinds of happy. The happy I’m talking about is the kind that lasts. It’s the kind of happy that can get you through the worst times; the worst situations in life. It might be more accurate to describe it as peace. I am peaceful.

People are angry, lately, for various reasons. They’re sick of hypocrisy in religion, or a seemingly stagnant economy, or corruption in the government, or discrimination that we just can’t seem to get past. I get it. The trouble is that anger and decisions made because of that anger don’t solve these problems. They perpetuate the problems. The solution is a lot simpler than people might think, and it has absolutely nothing to do with politics. It’s comprised of several parts, and it isn’t exactly easy, but I’m convinced it will work.

Anger feeds anger. Forgive everything, and make sure to forgive yourself.

Be helpful in any way you can. Indifference perpetuates injustice.

Be kind to those who don’t expect or don’t deserve it.

Be positive. Emotions generally dictate actions and decisions. Don’t let anger, fear, or sadness control you.

The solution starts here. Politicians and institutions will inevitably fail to live up to what we expect from them. People are innovative and creative and smart. If we work from the bottom up in small ways and in love we can fix the problems we face. It will force the people and institutions that create these problems to take a second look at us. They will see that we are happy and forgiving in ways that don’t make sense, and it will force them to change. It will make you happy and keep you happy, and it will do the same to them.

I am happy; I am peaceful and I know these things because it worked on me. I have experienced relentless love and forgiveness that was inevitably contagious. I was angry and fearful until I learned how to simply feel differently. I learned that I was loved, and I had to love back. More importantly, I had to spread that love to people who didn’t know it. Love is ultimately the solution to every problem imaginable. It is the strongest force in the universe, and in love, we the people will succeed.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

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I Get It!

Over the past year I’ve been working on reading the Bible cover to cover. Right now I’m in the book of Jeremiah, and man, that is not a happy thing to read. It’s all about how God is going to punish his people for betraying him and not adhering to his laws and teachings. He’s angry, and he speaks of his anger through the prophet Jeremiah. There’s not a lot of hope to be found there at first glance, especially if you don’t know where this story is ultimately going, and it’s literally scary to read. What I’ve found, though, is that God’s anger is relatable. There are little moments in what he says where one finds genuine hurt. In these moments he’s really saying: “I love you, and I just want you to love me back. I love you so much, but I don’t know what else to do. You’ve abandoned me, and the only thing left for me to do is to show you what that feels like.”

Today I found this: “I will bless you with a future filled with hope—a future of success, not of suffering. You will turn back to me and ask for help, and I will answer your prayers. You will worship me with all your heart, and I will be with you and accept your worship.” Jeremiah 29:11-14. God repeats over and over in this book that he will punish his people, but he makes sure to promise over and over that he won’t punish them forever. Even in his anger, God’s love shines through. He likens Israel and Judah to an unfaithful wife. I don’t know a whole lot about infidelity, but I have witnessed it from a distance, and I’ve seen how it hurts people. Forgiveness in that situation is hard.

Still, God wants, more than anything, for his people to love him back. He refuses to give up on them. He makes this very clear when he goes so far as to sacrifice himself and suffer real, physical betrayal and pain. Jesus took God’s judgment on himself. Said differently, he took on our betrayal. We can never pay that back. I don’t think it has ever hit me quite this hard. It is a love that cannot be reciprocated. I found myself actually thinking, “That isn’t fair…”

I guess that’s the point. No one will ever love God the way he loves us, no matter how hard we try; no matter what we do; no matter how nice we are; no matter how much we scripture-spam our Facebook friends; no matter how much we talk about God’s love, we can never come close to what he’s done for us. That’s just not fair, and to be perfectly honest, it’s a little hard to process. It’s unthinkable. There are no words to describe it. I can’t even say “Thank you,” because that would be inadequate. The only thing I can offer is genuine worship, and I think I understand a little better now what that is. I’m not sure I can put it into words yet.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

 

Why I Am Against Extensive Gun Control

A few summers ago, my dad, little brother, godfather and I took turns shooting at a pineapple with an assault rifle on my godfather’s property. It was completely pointless, hilarious, and innocent. It was also the first time I had ever shot a gun. We were very safe about it. My godfather owns a lot of guns and has plenty of experience from hunting or going to the shooting range. To make a long story short, we decimated the pineapple and then put the gun away.

I have to assume that most peoples’ stories with guns are in a similar vain: it’s just fun. Do I deny that these are dangerous weapons? Of course not, but I firmly believe that it’s your intentions that matter far more than what a weapon is capable of. Why does my godfather have assault weapons? He just likes to collect them and occasionally do pointless, hilarious, innocent things with them.

Many believe that if we had more gun control, or if civilians were not allowed to own guns at all, we’d have a safer society. This, at least from my estimation, is just not the case. If civilians were not allowed to own guns, the criminals would still find ways of getting them and the rest of us would be completely at their mercy. Last night there were gun shots and a bomb threat at my friend’s college in D.C. He and his girlfriend were evacuated from their apartment building across from campus and taken to a safe place. It seems like this kind of news is almost constant these days. My dad takes the train into Boston every day for work, and he carries a knife with him, but what if something really dangerous happened at North Station? What if something happens when I go see Star Wars with my friends? Whether we like it or not, these are dangerous times, and I personally would feel safer if more reasonable people had weapons.

Admittedly, I’m biased. I’ve lived very much on one side of the argument, and I’ve seen how guns can be used safely and reasonably… although blowing up pineapples isn’t exactly reasonable. I think it’s also a matter of knowing yourself. Though I am against more gun control, I don’t think I should have a gun. I’m clumsy, and I don’t trust myself enough to know what to do in a dangerous situation. If you asked me if I tend to have a “fight” or “flight” or “freeze” impulse, I think I have a “fight” impulse, and I know that can be dangerous. That being said, I still would feel safer if I had some way of defending myself and others.

The sheer amount of mass shootings and death and bad news lately is staggering and really discouraging. Perhaps my stance on gun control is partially in response to all of this. I want nothing more than peace on Earth. I want everyone to love each other. I am an idealist. Maybe I’ve become cynical, but I’ve begun to believe that you can just wish and pray evil away. There is a part of me that is a fighter, and though I don’t want to have to, I am willing to fight evil. It has to be fought. I will fight it with words because that’s what I can do, but I think the people who can do more should be allowed to. At heart I’m a pacifist. I will never start a fight, but if it’s a fight worth having, I will finish it.

To some this will sound violent and scary, and you could probably use my words as an argument for gun control. To be fair I’ve heard ridiculous, super conservative people say things that sound similar, but I’m not them. I believe in people, and I believe in freedom. At my core, I’m a Christian, and I believe in peace. In a perfect world there would be no guns. We could get rid of them, and I’d be okay with that. Put them in a box, and send them to the bottom of the ocean. We have much more constructive things to do with our time. To me it’s a matter of allowing a lesser evil to fight a far greater, far scarier one. I don’t believe that guns are necessarily a good, safe thing to own. They are simply a necessary evil that might keep our people a little bit safer for the time being.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

We Should Be Nice

My friend asked me to help her with a research paper. The topic is whether or not the U.S. should welcome Syrian refugees into our borders. I told her that I don’t know a lot of the details, and honestly, I don’t know the extent of the dangers that this could cause. All I know is that I am 200% for helping these people. All I can give right now is a moralistic argument, but here it is.

A lot of people in this country don’t want to let refugees into our borders for one reason: they’re scared. They are afraid that potential terrorists are hiding among the people who honestly just need a safe place to go. One argument I have repeatedly heard in favor of admitting the refugees is that their situation appears very similar to that of the Jews during World War 2. The counter argument is that it is actually a very different situation because the Jews were a clearly defined, and clearly innocent group of people. It would be absurd to expect any of them to do anything violent and troublesome. However, I think many who are opposed to bringing in any refugees forget that the majority of these people really are innocent. We can’t lock the doors to all of them just because some of them might be bad. We must help the innocent and needy. We need a proper and effective screening process that is also efficient so that we can get these people into a stable situation as soon as possible.

While there is and always will be a threat of terrorists sneaking in among the refugees, we have to remember that it really isn’t all that difficult for ISIS to influence American citizens to do their work for them. They target isolated and marginalized people who are seeking an outlet to express their frustration. Many isolated people simply want to belong to something, and if they are convinced that they are important to a holy war, and that they will be greatly rewarded, they may and have been led to do horrible, violent things. These could be French, English, or American citizens who feel that they belong nowhere else and that they can succeed at nothing else. ISIS recruits these people through commonly used social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and through other less known outlets as well. They have people who are very technologically savvy and can communicate and transfer funds and information across the globe without being detected via the dark web (a closed system that avoids using sites that are detectable by search engines–for more information on the dark web, go here: Dark Web). So while there is a danger of radicalized Syrians coming into our country, there is always a danger of ISIS radicalizing our own people.

Lastly, the U.S. has seen a lot of violent crimes perpetrated by American citizens. Young American people who are frustrated with life go into schools and movie theaters what seems like several times a year sometimes, and kill as many people as they can. While we don’t know their motives, we have to realize that this is a result of isolation. People who have healthy relationships, stable home lives, and a network of support to help with any mental health problems they may have, don’t do these things. It is the people who are neglected and ignored who end up resorting to violence. In this situation, we can all take some of the blame. Our citizens simply don’t want to deal with these people because we’re too busy or because we don’t want to get into an uncomfortable situation, our government doesn’t help because they don’t have enough money, or because they don’t know how, and our religious institutions, Christian, Muslim, or whatever else, don’t get involved because of the complicated theological and existential implications, and because their leaders are inadequately trained to deal with these kinds of issues. Refusing to accept refugees is not going to stop violent crime in this country.

The ultimate solution to our problem is to be careful, but also to be loving. We can increase productivity and the overall happiness of our people, including those we help from other countries, by developing a more inclusive, more caring society. Ultimately what will solve our problem is a change within ourselves. We need to be willing to do two things: get over our fear, and sacrifice a little of our time. We can be kind and loving while still being practical, but we need to be intentional about it. We need to make conscious choices about how we act toward every other person. I’ve had this conversation with my dad over and over: if we could just show our enemies how prosperous our nation is and how happy our people are overall, we might change their minds about us. Our country was built by immigrants and refugees. By not helping our Syrian friends, we are proving our enemies right about us.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!I

Hey, Terrorists

Hey, terrorists. I want to talk to you. My name’s Katie, and you know what? I’m Christian. Guess what else? I graduated college. I’m writing a book, and I’ve got paid money to be on stage and play music for people. I bet you hate that. You know what the best part is? I’m not afraid of you. You probably see me as broken. You see me as an infidel, and there is no doubt in my mind that you would kill me if we crossed paths on the wrong day. I don’t hate you, though. I am angry with you, but I don’t hate you. In some ways I feel bad for you.

You don’t know my God, so you don’t know love. You’ve never known freedom. You’ve never known peace. Your lives revolve around war. All you want to do is kill people for your insane deity. I have a secret for you. Freedom and peace come when people can accept each other’s differences and get along. You are my enemies. You made that clear when you started attacking and killing my fellow Christians in Syria and Iraq and other places, and later when you made me worry for the safety of my friends in France. I don’t hate you. My God told me to love my enemies. My God told me to pray for my enemies, so I’ve been praying for you.

I’ve been praying that you would change. I’ve been praying that you would know the love and joy that you would find in the presence of my God. Your god is distant. Your god demands death and destruction, and your god will never be satisfied. My God loved you before you were born. My God loves you now, and my God will love you no matter what. He made you in his image. He made you in the image of love. That’s what he wants you to do. He wants you to love. He doesn’t want you to destroy. He wants you to show kindness to those you disagree with. He wants you to help the people who have nothing. He wants you to repent and give him the glory he deserves. Only love can create a perfect world, not your so-called holy war. Just stop. Just give it up. Isn’t that easier? No one else has to fight. No one else has to die. No one ever has to be alone ever again.

You call your fighters martyrs. You’re not dying for your god. You’re dying for your own ego. You’re dying because your leaders told you to. The real martyrs are the Christians you’re killing for believing in love. You can’t possibly be devoid of love or remorse. There must be a part of you that knows this is wrong. You are human. If nothing else, that makes us family. You are my family, and I will not hate you. Like me you have a family. Like me you were once a silly, imaginative child. Like me you must have someone or something that you love. Like me you believe in a greater purpose. We are a lot more alike than you would ever like to admit, I know. I bet if you and I sat down to coffee one day we’d find something interesting to talk about. I bet we could have a civilized conversation. Isn’t that easier? Doesn’t that sound nice? Stop fighting. Just think about it.

 

Plan B: Pass It On

Last night it hit me. Young people in the modernized, western world are turning to ISIS for stability, community and answers instead of the Church. Something needs to be done about that. Obviously that isn’t always the case, but the fact that it happens at all is a serious problem that is getting overlooked. My original plan was to start working on my own “propaganda” to try to bring people to Christ instead of the Islamic State. As most of my plans are, this was overly ambitious. I’m just one woman, and I don’t have the know-how to do it properly. My plan B, which probably should have been plan A, is this:

Lord, there are people in this world who really need you right now. They need to know your love and your peace. Please make sure that they find you. Direct them to your Church, and not to violence. Direct them to love. Use your people, Lord, and let us be loud. Let us be your voice. Give us the tools and the words; give us whatever it is we need to bring in the lonely, the weird, and the wounded. Lord, don’t let hate and despair grow in their hearts. Fill that space with your love and lead your people to Jesus–all your people. Lastly, please heal those people who have already chosen violence. Show them that this is not what you want for them. Show them that what they are doing is wrong, and show them that you still love them. Overwhelm them with your love. Let there be peace and forgiveness among enemies. Let us be one, all together under one God. Don’t leave anyone behind, Lord, and don’t let us leave anyone behind.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

So my plan only works if you pass it on. Peeps! Pray this, too, and then share it on your on blog or Facebook or whatever else you use, and bug your friends.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Where To Find God

Earlier today I read a short article that one of my friends posted on Facebook about why Christians should create art. The strongest argument, I thought, was that we are created in the image of God who is the ultimate creative force in the world. We’re not meant to just sit idly. We are meant to take care of God’s creation, but we are also meant to create. Another point that was made was that good art is a reflection of the goodness in the world, and the potential for the world to come.

The author also pointed out that the art we create doesn’t have to be Christian art. Painters don’t have to paint scenes from the Gospel. Songwriters don’t have to exclusively write worship songs. Good art amazes us and can even bring us to tears, and I think there’s spiritual value in that. We can pay homage to our Creator without being obvious. Good art brings joy to our lives, helps us relax, and allows us to dream and to wonder.

If God is meant to be like a friend, if we’re meant to have a relationship with him, then it’s important to actually spend time with him. On one level, yes, that means going to church and reading the Bible and praying, but I think it can also mean just being content, enjoying some good music, or playing a good video game by yourself. It means enjoying life and appreciating what you have. I think simply being content is a way of communing with God because the complications of life and the world around us aren’t getting in the way. I think that’s why a lot of people say that they find God in nature, as opposed to in a church.

It’s not easy to be content. I know I often find myself overly critiquing my thoughts and actions and coming to the conclusion that I’ve failed. I often find myself thinking that I’m doing something wrong or that I’m missing something important or that I’m wasting too much time. I’m very critical of myself, especially when I think I’m being overly self-indulgent. Trying to be perfect is a giant hassle. All this is to say that I am often the most at ease–the most content–when I’m playing video games in my bedroom. I’m not praying, I’m not reading, I’m not thinking. I’m just enjoying myself, and honestly, I think it’s really good for me. I get the same feeling out of reading fantasy stories or watching movies. It’s not a spiritual activity, but it lets me be at peace. Some people find God at the top of mountains. I find him in epic adventures through which I escape my own mind: through which I escape the complications of this world.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Seven Truths I had To Learn The Hard Way

  1. God’s time is different than our time, and 2,000 years may seem like a long time to us, but it just might not be in the grand scheme of things.
  2. God loves each of us unconditionally, but he also loves all of humanity unconditionally, and we’re part of a bigger plan.
  3. Bad stuff happens, but it’s going to be worth it.
  4. God keeps his promises.
  5. What God thinks of me is far more important than what judgmental people think of me, and I have no reason to be afraid of anyone.
  6. Most people (including myself) don’t take the fact that we are the body of Christ seriously enough.
  7. Prayer works

Miracles And Disasters And Storytellers

I read something yesterday talking about God’s worthiness (e.g. he is worthy of honor, respect, etc). It’s hard to understand the notion that one should fear God, but I don’t think it’s strange, nor is it opposed to the notion that one should love God. For one thing, God is scary. It makes sense that us puny humans would and should be afraid of the most powerful being in the universe; but on the other hand, this same all-powerful being, who could destroy all human life without lifting a finger, is the epitome of love. That is precisely why he is worthy.

I read a post on another blog that was talking about how some more vocal (and in my opinion, obnoxious) atheists are hellbent on presenting the God of the Old Testament as some kind of serial killer. It’s not an excuse to say that he did what he did because he had a plan and he was bringing his chosen people to their promised land. The fact of the matter is that, in a lot of those stories, he killed people, either vicariously, or by supernatural means. The fact of the matter is, however, that many of the Old Testament stories are allegory. Take the creation story, for example. If one believes in The Big Bang and evolution, which I do, then one has to read the six days in Genesis as perhaps six periods in the beginning of time. The earth was not made in six literal days.

Over and over, people cite Noah’s adventure as an example of where God just arbitrarily decides to kill off all of humanity. To be honest, I don’t have a good, literary interpretation for that story, but the truth is that I don’t need one. God didn’t wipe out all of humanity because we’re still here. There is no scientific evidence indicating a global flood, but some argue that there is sufficient evidence to suggest a “local” flood (i.e. a flood that devastated or disrupted the general area in which Noah and his family resided). Historically, peoples’ ideas of what one meant when describing “the entire earth,” were much smaller than ours. Most of the world was uncharted territory.

Perhaps there was a flood, and the people of that time attributed it to God. This is understandable. When one has no modern science, it is easy to attribute catastrophic events, and miraculous ones to God. But we don’t attribute earthquakes and tsunamis and hurricanes to God these days. Those are generally understood, by believers and nonbelievers alike, to be freak accidents. I think it is dangerous to attribute natural events to any supernatural being without some serious thought and investigation. That is not to say that God does not orchestrate natural events. Events like the creation and birth of a child are nothing less than miraculous, no matter how you slice it.

What this all boils down to is that sometimes I feel the need to defend my faith in a God I know is good and loving and merciful. I don’t understand everything in the Bible, and I can freely and openly admit that. I feel that it would be untrue to say that God doesn’t pick sides. I think he does pick sides, but often, he is on the side of the losers. He was, and still is, on the side of Israel, and Israel killed their enemies and took their land. This is true. His ultimate plan, however, is to unite the entire world under one flag. Until then there will always be wars. There will always be violence. There will always be winners and losers; but in the end there will be peace, and that peace will be unending.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Making Sense Of Things

It took me a very long time to understand how one is supposed to love and fear God, when actually, it’s not all that complicated. There are a lot of passages in the Bible where, in the same sentence, the speaker will say one ought to fear the Lord and, oh by the way, he loves you. On the surface that sounds contradictory, but what I think it means is that God is exceptionally powerful, and his power, understandably, should be feared and respected. There are a lot of verses that instruct the reader not to be afraid of dangers in the world. We are loved by the most powerful being in the universe.

Before I continue, I want to address some objections. The ones I can think of off the top of my head are as follows:

1) If God loves us (all of humanity), then why is there so much suffering in the world? If God is so powerful, why doesn’t he just fix everything?

2) If God truly loves everyone, then why does the Bible, as well as many followers of the Christian faith say that a large portion of the world’s population is going to Hell where they will be tortured for eternity?

These are two questions I encounter a lot, and they are questions that have bothered me for a long time. I don’t think I will ever find answers that will completely satisfy me, let alone anyone else, but I wanted to share the conclusions I have come to over the past several years.

1) God has a plan. It’s a good plan, and God intends to redeem humanity: to make the world a better place where there will be no more suffering. For whatever reason, it’s taking a long time, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. It just means that it has to take this long.

2) The fact of the matter is, I know close to nothing about the afterlife. I am certainly not an authority on the issue. I have come to a couple disjointed conclusions, based on research and personal experience, which are as follows:

I: No one is predestined for Heaven or Hell. I should preface this by saying that my understanding of Heaven is being in the full presence of God, while Hell is complete separation. In God’s presence is love and joy and peace, while outside of it is some sort of emptiness and danger. I believe that, in this life, we are stuck somewhere in the middle. That being said, It’s a choice where we end up.

II: Jesus died and rose from the dead so that all of humanity could be redeemed. God doesn’t want anyone to be left outside. Historical and linguistic evidence suggests that while some might go to Hell, it won’t be forever. When the Kingdom comes, even the worst, most immoral people who rejected God their entire lives will be returned to him. In fact, there is reason to believe that Hell is a place of reformation. This is evidenced by the development of the idea of Purgatory.

III: It isn’t the duty of any Christian to condemn people. It’s our duty to teach love and salvation. For one thing, it’s more effective, and for another, it’s closer to the Truth.

Another objection I can think of is: If salvation is universal, then why bother being Christian?

Salvation isn’t about booking a room in eternity. It’s about making the world a better place. Most of what Jesus told people to do was relevant to here and now. It was about taking care of the poor, making peace among enemies, and respecting people because they are worth a lot to God. It’s a way of life: not strictly an escape from death.

I just wanted to get this out there.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!