Piece of the Puzzle

random musings on whatever…

Tag: politics Page 2 of 3

More Prayer, Not Less

One of the lessons Christians take from the teaching of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ is that senseless violence is no match for the love of God. Although the world may reject love way in favor or greed, violence, and a thirst for power, we put our trust in the promise that love, forgiveness, and peace will win out in the end. This does not negate our grief or our anger over tragedies of violence that make no sense. It doesn’t lessen our call to act to make such atrocities less likely. Indeed, it offers hope and renews the call to act, to live out of the love of God that is rejected by the world and build the kin-dom with faithful action, compassion, and resolve.

In the face of tragic heart-breaking violence I understand the frustration behind the sentiment that people don’t need our thoughts and prayers, especially when the prayers come from the mouths of politicians who refuse to otherwise act to reduce the violence in our culture. But I’m a little confused when people of faith say we don’t need prayers. We actually need more prayer, not less. Of course, although I think prayer is indeed necessary, prayer alone is not sufficient. We also must act.

I think those who speak against prayer have a basic misunderstanding of what prayer is and is not. It is true we don’t need empty prayers. Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:5-8 that we should not pray empty prayers meant only to put on a show for others. Unfortunately, these are the prayers we get from politicians who want to look like they care but who refuse to act when it is in their power to do so. However, sincere prayer, understood properly, is needed more than ever from people of faith. Prayer is not a magical murmuring that calls upon God to solve all of our problems for us. Such prayer is also useless because it actually discourages us from acting. Prayer is not a magical solution and it never absolves us of the responsibility to care for the world. Prayer is meant to help us act and not avoid acting. Prayer is meant to express our compassion, to open our hearts to God’s call to love and justice, giving us the courage and strength to act. We are the instruments of the Divine. We are God’s voice and hands in this world. We are the means through which God acts in this world. We need more prayer, not less, that God may work through us to end the madness of our culture’s violence. Let us pray for healing, for forgiveness, for wisdom and for courage and when we’re done praying let us take action.

All Hail the Pandersquat

I wrote this one for a poetry workshop. The assignment was to write a non-sensical poem, but it makes all too much sense in light of our current political situation.

All Hail the Pandersquat

Along the grundle vodamen slither,
sprickety sprocks shroud 'neath the gobblespot
and hippity hocks flee the pandersquat
passing ghastly as the hoopsnot wither.
Rising snuffle thumps have drawn him hither
to hoop, holler and blither garblesnot.
His bangles and boogles dangle goldrot,
drop the yorsier folk in a dither.

But one spartled sprocklet towers and truths:
“Mister pandersquat,” she upstarts, “your aur
snuffles the vermest. Scour that squawker.”
“What gespittle and guspah,” he retooths.
With crowdly hurrah the vodaman corps
sprangle the spree sprocklet off to slaughter.

©2017 Kenneth W. Arthur

Alternative Facts: Escher Meets Kafka

One of my poems was posted on The New Verse News. Along with last week’s current events, the Escher lithograph “Ascending and Descending” partially inspired the poem (not the image they posted with the poem).

A Christmas Reflection – 2016

On this day is born a child, the savior. On this day, the light and love of God takes our form that we might be healed and made whole. That is reason to rejoice! This Christmas morning I woke filled with happiness at just being alive. For a few seconds anyway. Then I remembered what’s happening in our country, in our world, and immediately felt my chest tighten, that happiness dissipate. Anxiety was back. Persistent anxiety seems to be the new reality as 2016 comes to a close. As I lay in bed I wondered what it means for Christ to be born into a world that is becoming ever darker.

Donald Trump is our president-elect, the future leader of my country and soon to be one of the most powerful people on this planet. This is a man whose rhetoric is filled with anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-muslim vitriol. This is a man who behaves like a prepubescent child, where any criticism isn’t met with reason or discussion but with insults and twitter tantrums. This is a man who seems too busy to be bothered with facts and evidence. Instead, whatever comes out of his mouth is expected to be taken as truth – and many do so without question. This is a man whose advisors and future cabinet include white supremacists, homophobes, corporate shills, climate change deniers, an education secretary nominee who is an enemy of public education, and on and on. This is a man who, while his team plans the future of his administration, goes on a victory tour so he can continue to enjoy the cheers of adoring fans. This is a man who lambasts US intelligence agencies while praising a Russian dictator. This narcissistic, treasonous, emotionally stunted demagogue, who cares not a whit for you or me or our country but only that his pocketbook is full and his ego has been properly stroked, is our president-elect.

I find a little hope in the knowledge that the majority of voters did not vote for this man but that his electoral victory was an artifact of our particular and peculiar process of electing a President. And I’ve pretty much given up trying to figure out why anyone voted for this man. Every justification I’ve heard rings hollow. Clinton was in bed with the banks and corporations, you say? So the solution was to elect the banks and corporations directly, I ask? Take a look at Trump’s proposed cabinet. It’s filled with billionaires, people who care about nothing but maximizing their quarterly profits. Why we have done this to ourselves makes no sense to me but it is the reality we are faced with and it fills me with anxiety. Frankly, everyone who isn’t a wealthy, straight, white, “Christian” male should be a little afraid.

Frankly, one of the most discouraging and depressing aspects of the 2016 presidential election is how many of Trump’s supporters claim to be followers of Christ. We cannot proclaim to be Jesus’ followers, to be Christians, and not follow what he taught: to love one another. To love our neighbor as we love ourselves is the foundation of everything Jesus stood for. It is simply not possible to support Donald Trump and his actions, both real and promised, and truthfully call yourself a follower of Christ. Simply not possible.

So what does it mean to me to say that into this world is born the light and love of God? What does it mean to affirm the spiritual reality of this Christmas Day? It means there is hope for the future, that there will always be hope. If there is still love in the world, and there is, then there is hope. It means I can put my trust in God because, although it may sometimes feel like it, God has not forsaken this world but God is born into this world. And like Jesus was born as God’s love incarnate 2000 years ago, today God’s love is being born into each of us should we choose to make room for it in the stable of our hearts. Each of us is being asked to give birth to love this Christmas. That we will say, as Mary did, “Here am I, the servant of God; let it be with me according to your word,” is where my hope lies for we are the voices and hands of God, the servants and prophets of the Divine. We are the hope for the world.

Yes, that scares me a lot too. It’s a daunting responsibility. I’m still living into the idea, still trying to figure out what exactly I’m called to do and be in this new reality. I’ve never claimed to be an activist of any kind. I confess I don’t want to be an activist. But this Christmas, I pray that God’s light and love be born anew in my heart. I pray that light not only brightens the darkness, but that it reveal what lies hidden in the darkness, that it reveal how I may serve my loving God.

Merry Christmas! May God’s love abound in all of our lives this Christmas Day that there may be hope and healing in the world, that the evils of our world, the misogyny, the homophobia, the racism, the xenophobia, may whither and die in the light of our love. Amen.

Modern Monsters

Modern Monsters

Life-sucking vampires
preach a prosperity gospel:
Give us your blood,
it'll trickle back down again.
Not in time to save your ass,
but you can't have everything.

Mindless zombies
create converts:
Give us your brain,
let the mob do your thinking.
The world will go to hell
but it will be a ride to remember.

Frenzied werewolves
seduce the soul:
Give us your vitality,
we'll change the world – 
not if it means compromise,
but at least we have our principles.

Unfocused full moon rage.
Unrepentant full time death.
When the zombies and vampires team up
the werewolves run scared.

©2016 Kenneth W. Arthur

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