Category: World Peace

“The Zen Of Jesus”

2004-vacation-0951.jpgI had an interesting thought. How might the teachings of Jesus line up with the teachings of Zen Buddhism? I began to search the Gospels for teachings by Jesus on peace, love, contentment and the avoidance of worry among other topics.

Then I figured that there must be others who have had the same thought so I Googled “The Zen of Jesus”. On the first page alone I found six books available on the subjects of “The Zen Teachings Of Jesus” and “Christian Zen”.

I am not advocating doctrinal synchronization among world religions but I am so confident that Jesus truly is “The Way, the Truth and the Life” that I am compelled to present Him as more approachable to individuals hindered by preconceived notions resulting from the toxic rants delivered by a few of his vociferous followers.

There are countless individuals who are struggling so deeply with the trials and tribulations of this life that they aren’t concerned with theological discussions about the afterlife; like, if there even is one.

Jesus said that He was anointed to…

“Proclaim good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”                                           Luke 4:18-19 / Isaiah 61:1

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Anyone who is grieving, disenfranchised, marginalized, depressed, ill, confused, in pain and / or simply wondering why they exist would do well to consider examining and meditating on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Even if one is not searching for salvation or eternal life but simply for some meaning to life and relief from the pain that can be so prevalent in our world, Jesus will meet you where you are. I am confident that one will be surprised and even impressed by encountering Jesus apart from the “trappings” of religion and just might find something even deeper and more wonderful than the existential meaning and relief they are seeking.

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“In Support of Gun Control”

2004 vacation 095As a moderate conservative, I am not going to make many friends with the insight shared in this post but I can’t ignore the information.

The following is the transcript of a recent conversation I had regarding gun control with my friend, Tom who is a British national.

Tom:   Following the school shooting in Scotland in 1996 a law was passed prohibiting private ownership of handguns throughout the United Kingdom.

Me:      How many school shootings have there been in the UK since that law was implemented?

Tom:   None.

I really like Tom; he is a fine upstanding young man. However, I have been around long enough to know that one should check facts before going public. Here is what I found.

On March 13, 1996 Thomas Watt Hamilton killed 16 students and one teacher at Dunblane Primary School in Dunblane, Scotland. 10 others were also wounded in the attack before Hamilton took his own life.

Following this tragedy public outcry resulted in the implementation of the Firearms Act of 1997 (Amendment No. 2) that prohibits private ownership of handguns with the exception of muzzle loaded and historic handguns. In the 17 years since the implementation of the Firearms Act of 1997 in the United Kingdom there have been no school shootings in that nation.

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Meanwhile, since 1996 there have been 64 school shootings within the United States.

I love America and support the constitution and the right to bear arms. I also support the right of parents and students to rest easy with some assurance of their safety.

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Read more: Timeline of Worldwide School Shootings | Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0777958.html#ixzz3KftuUivP

“Everyone Agrees with the Gospel, They Just Don’t Know It!”

2004 vacation 095Donald Southerland was recently interviewed on Good Morning America about his role as President Snow in The Hunger Games movie series. When asked about his desire to play the role he said, “I asked for it”. He asked for the role in the franchise because “I wanted to end my life being part of something that I thought would maybe catalyze and revolutionize young people because they have been so dormant. This election, it was the lowest voter representation in 72 years. Young people have to get out, you have to get out and change things, you really do. It’s up to you. We’ve wrecked this world and if you’re gonna fix it, you’ve gotta do it now.”

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His statement that “We’ve wrecked this world” was validation of the message that followers of Jesus Christ have been saying since the church’s inception. We live in a fallen, broken world that needs fixing, healing and restoration. While I applaud Mr. Sutherland’s call for the young generation to fix what we’ve wrecked I have to say that this is nothing new. The cultural revolution of the 1960’s was an attempt to accomplish the same objective as was so well illustrated by the 1967 “Summer of Love” phenomenon. The problem is that while a call for everyone to love one another was delivered, it was done so without the divine power of unconditional or agape love. The love that was being called for was a conditional love and therefore fell short of realizing the transformative result that was desired.

Jesus has the answers, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus also said, “Do to others what you would have them do to you”. Jesus has the answer and Jesus is the answer.

My Kingdom for Non-Biased News!

2004 vacation 095While recent videos depicting Muslim Street Patrols attempting to enforce Sharia Law in East London, UK disturbed me I decided that it would be prudent to investigate further before forming an opinion.

The threat of a movement bent on imposing Sharia Law in western nations, particularly the UK and the US appears to be real but to what degree? The majority of Muslims living in the west seem to be peaceful people who enjoy the freedom of religion guaranteed by the US Constitution and the British Human Rights Act. In my experience they are willing to live by the law of the land and accept the rights of others to worship according to their own beliefs and traditions.

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The more I researched, the more I discovered that completely unbiased information on this issue is about as common as the proverbial needle in the haystack. Conservatives highlight instances within the US involving court cases that factor in Sharia Law when the litigants are Muslim and from Islamic nations. Liberals are quick to downplay the same instances as anomalies and nothing more than fuel to feed the fires of unwarranted fear.

Further investigation begged questions as to whether or not such decisions have contradicted US law or not. Navigating the complexities of Constitutional Law is a daunting task, as provisions exist allowing for the enforcement of contracts and obligations established in other nations according to foreign laws.

Attempts in some states – most notably Alabama and Oklahoma – to implement state constitutional amendments prohibiting any foreign law to be factored into US court cases have produced a confusing quagmire of complexity that could actually conflict with the US Constitution.

Any aspect of Sharia Law that conflicts with the US Constitution should not be considered regardless of whom the litigants or defendants might be. If I were arrested in Iran for violating Iranian (Sharia) law what is the likelihood that I would be afforded a trial based on US Law?

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Groups advocating the implementation of Sharia Law in the west are small. However, as I considered that fact, I remembered a question I asked my mom and dad when I was young. My parents were young adults in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s so I asked them what they had thought of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi’s before the invasions of Europe and Africa began.

They’re response was telling.  “We thought that he was a funny little man with a funny mustache on the other side of the ocean and that the brown-shirts were insignificant gangs of street thugs.”

Everyone should be free to sleep at night – even if it is with one eye open. If someone, anyone would provide an accurate and comprehensive assessment of this complicated issue then perhaps we could sleep with both eyes closed.

 

“Love is…”

“Love is patient, love is kind. human-kindness-11

It does not envy,

it does not boast,  it is not proud.

It is not rude, it is not self-seeking,

It is not easily angered,

It keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but…

Rejoices with the truth.

Love always protects,

Always trusts,

Always hopes,

Always perseveres.

Love never fails.”

“My Heinous Insensitivity”

2004 vacation 095In light of the ongoing events in Ferguson, MO I am compelled to share what I consider to be arguably the most shameful act that I ever committed.  Although I performed this act over 35 years ago, my insensitivity still haunts me.  Because my actions were so reprehensible until now I have shared this with only a few people.

My dad went to great lengths to insure that I understood that racial prejudice was unacceptable under any circumstance.  I accepted his teaching and his spirit.   Growing up in lily-white Orange County, CA during the 60’s and 70’s I was not adequately prepared for the realities of multi-cultural life.  Of the 2,000 students who attended my high school less than 100 would have been identified as ethnic minorities.  As was common in those days, racial jokes and stereotypes abounded.person-ran-through-smoke-after-police-launched-tear-gas

None of this excuses my actions of October 31, 1978. In an ill-conceived attempt at humor I dressed myself for a Halloween party as a stereotypical “black man.”  I covered my skin with “creole” makeup and tucked my straight auburn hair into a ski cap.  I donned clothing in keeping with the stereotype.  But it was my choice of accessories that best illustrated by ignorant insensitivity.  In one hand I carried a basketball and in the other an empty box from a fried chicken food chain.

The Lesson

Before the party I entered a Huntington Beach liquor store.  While I searched the store for snacks to take to the party I noticed that the proprietor was watching me intently.  I smiled to myself confident that he was duly impressed by my costume.  When I arrived at the check-out counter the proprietor recognized my farce and in stunned awareness exclaimed, “You’re white!”

I was proud of the quality of my masquerade.  As I left the store however, I was kicked in the teeth by a revelation. The storeowner hadn’t been watching me out of admiration for my costume; his diligent scrutiny was based on an assumption that I was black.  This wasn’t about a Halloween costume; this is the sort of treatment common toward African Americans every day in our nation.

I was cut to the quick with shame.  This was not, or so I thought, the kind of person that I was and it was definitely not the kind of person I wanted to be.  That lesson has both haunted me and been a constant reminder that with all of the effort directed at bringing an end to racism the problem continues.

News footage from Ferguson produces chilling reminders of the urban race riots of the 1960’s that, as a child I watched on television from the safety of my suburban Orange County home; trying to understand the reason for the violence.

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There have been significant improvements in race relations over the years, a rather hollow assessment from a white man but we still have a long way to go; on all sides of the ethnic discussion.