Wild Fires and School Shootings

Nearly six years ago, I read an article on Wired.com that dramatically changed the way I think. It was regarding wildfires and how we fight them, and this particular passage struck me:

“Then, when you look at the last century, you see the climate getting warmer and drier, but until the last couple decades the amount of fire was really low. We’ve pushed fire in the opposite direction you’d expect from climate,” [Yale University pyrogeographer Jennifer] Marlon said.

In other words, nature was already adapting to keep fires minimal, but then we in our all-knowing wisdom intervened, thinking we had to prevent fires to save ourselves.

Instead, through our very actions, we caused what we sought to eliminate.

Reading the beginning of the article, specifically about wildfires, allows an easy segue into where this article applies now:

THE VAST WILDFIRES of this summer and last represent a new normal for the western United States. They may signal a radical landscape transformation, one that will make the 21st century West an ecological frontier.

Unlike fires that have occurred regularly for thousands of years, these fires are so big and so intense as to create discontinuities in natural cycles. In the aftermath, existing forests may not return. New ecosystems will take their place.

“These transitions could be massive. They represent the convergence of several different forces,” said Donald Falk, a fire ecologist at the University of Arizona. “There is a tremendous amount of energy on the landscape that historically would not have been there. These are nuclear amounts of energy.”

We could reword this in the following manner, and it would be equally true:

THE LARGE AMOUNT OF GUN VIOLENCE IN THE US of the last 25 years represent a new normal for the United States. They may signal a radical landscape transformation, one that will make the 21st century a sociological frontier.

Unlike violence that has occurred regularly for thousands of years, this violence is so big and so intense as to create discontinuities in natural cycles. In the aftermath, existing institutions may not be able to cope. New cultures will take their place.

“These transitions could be massive. They represent the convergence of several different forces. There is a tremendous amount of energy on the landscape that historically would not have been there. These are nuclear amounts of energy.”

Just as Dr. Marlon said above in relation to wildfires in the west, 25 years ago in particular the US undertook a mission to make our society safer – but we have achieved exactly the opposite results of what we expected.

There are many people with many theories as to why this is, and there are certainly, as Dr. Falk says, “several different forces” at play. But I have arrived at one that I think lies at the root of it, and I think that be correcting our course on this one issue, we may be able to correct our course overall and arrive at our desired, safer, destination.

What is that one issue?

Zero tolerance policies in schools.

I remember as an elementary school kid in the late 80s and early 90s – just before Zero Tolerance kicked in during my 6th grade year – that getting in fights was settled with either the teacher or the Principal, and usually resulted in nothing more than a stern lecture and maybe after school detention. But it also, critically, allowed the small fire to flash over and dissipate.

With the advent of Zero Tolerance in particular, all of a sudden even looking at another person wrong could result in expulsion from school or at minimum a stay at in school suspension for a few days. Fighting became guaranteed expulsion and likely criminal charges, no matter how young the kids in question were and no matter who the actual aggressor was. Now, we have actively and aggressively suppressed the small fires.

But this allows the weeds and brushes of small angers and resentments to build. Angers and resentments that even a few years prior were allowed to flash over as a small fire all of a sudden became… Jonesboro. Paducah. Columbine. And more and more others. School shootings where kids were bringing guns to schools specifically to inflict as much damage as possible, in an attempt to handle their own anger and pain.

This has only continued to build over the last 25 years, as people who were in school then and since have continued to have these grievances actively, aggressively suppressed and are taught to hold them in no matter what. And now we are to the point where these shootings are barely even news unless more than a handful are killed. Where once any attack was national level news, even ones where hardly anyone was hurt – much less killed -, we now have attacks barely make waves in the local media when similar numbers are attacked.

At the time Zero Tolerance was implemented, the 24/7 news cycle was in its infancy. The Internet – the very platform you are reading this very article on – was just beginning to come online in a big way for the average consumer. We had no way of knowing what the 24/7 news cycle, political punditry, and in particular the rise of social media and other instant communications would allow. We had no idea that allowing those small fires to flash over quickly was about to become paramount, instead seeing them as something that needed to be suppressed at all costs.

Well, now we know more exactly what those costs are – and I for one do not believe them worth it. Return us to the era where fist fighting was not encouraged, but was understood. Return us to an era where the small fires were allowed to flash over in order to prevent the widespread devastation of the wildland fire.

Will repealing Zero Tolerance restore all that we have lost over the last 25 years? Not in the short term. But maybe, just maybe, 25 years from now we will see that it did indeed patch the dam long enough for our other institutions to repair themselves and solve that problem for good.

The Choice

Last night, I wrote a 3000 word piece about the intersection of Joshua, Samuel, and Jesus Christ. Today, I want to try to make the case a bit more succinctly.

Government is a choice, and in that choice we reject God.

If you read nothing else in this post, that last sentence is the entire point I am making.

Even in Joshua’s “choose this day” speech, he makes that very point – something most people miss when quoting that verse. He specifically says that the choice is between the God that his ancestors had chosen or the gods of those now around them in the land we now know as Israel. This truly is a dichotomous choice – God, or not. Many years later, the gods around them have transitioned into government, and kings have arisen throughout the land. So the elders of Israel go to Joshua’s (much later) successor, Samuel, and demand a king of their own. And at this point, God Himself says to the elders (through Samuel) explicitly that in making that choice, they have rejected Him (and His ability to provide for them). A millenia or two later, God would become incarnate in the form of the man we now call Jesus Christ. And Jesus would make the same point, in such a subtle fashion that it did not alarm the ruling government of his day. Jesus explicitly says in his most famous sermon “You cannot serve two masters. Either you will hate one and love the other, or you will serve one and despise the other.”

Thus, you can choose government. Or God. You cannot choose both. Because if you try, you will wind up despising one of them. Even God Himself – twice! – says exactly this.

That is the choice.

That is your choice.

Swinging Pendulums and Relationships

Six years ago, back in my political blogging days, I wrote about Swinging Pendulums, specifically as they related to politics.

I began by describing the science of pendulums, and I shall copy that description here:

When you swing a pendulum one way, it will go a certain distance before stopping, reversing, and swinging an equal distance the other way. If energy is added on the return swing, it will actually go further on that swing, before once again reversing and swinging an equal distance the original direction. This will continue ad infinitum, until eventually the pendulum makes a complete revolution on its axis. Even then, if more energy is continually added, the swinging will continue to get faster and faster, and the revolutions will thus happen more and more frequently.

While discussing my post about Paul and his position on women teaching men in the Church yesterday, I began noticing that the pendulum post applied. I’ll not go into any specifics on that particular case, but instead use my work with Cop Block as my example of the pendulum amongst individuals and groups.

The pendulum regarding cops swings from one side who has absolute faith in cops to the other side of those who have absolutely no faith in cops or anything remotely connected to cops.

I’ve known people on both extremes, and admittedly I may be more on the “no faith” side than at the zero point on this particular pendulum. But that is exactly what I want to talk about.

You see, I openly acknowledge that I was abused by cops as a kid. Fortunately, my abuse didn’t involve beatings, rapes, or murder, but it was still cops abusing their power rather than trying to understand an Autistic teenager. In my particular case, the first instance was when cops tried to question me over something that I learned existed when they began questioning me. They first questioned me in a school conference room with no lawyer, parent, or even school counselor present. They then subjected me to a lie detector test, where they asked about the girl I had a massive crush on at the time. At the time, I was firmly in the “absolute faith” camp, so I “consented” to all of this. I later got a letter from one of the girls involved apologizing for causing all the drama, a letter I have to this day. The second instance of my abuse was a few months later, at the Egelston Christmas Parade in Atlanta. I had found a large rock at school, and because this was the first Saturday in December, my mom required me to take a coat to the parade. I put the coat in my backpack, but the pack was too light. So I put the rock in it as well. At the parade, I stood where I had stood for years, in the parking deck above the then Planet Hollywood across from the Hard Rock Atlanta. At some point, I took the rock out and placed it on the ledge for a moment. Within moments, I had units from Atlanta Police Department’s Red Dogs – a unit later known for such brutality that it was disbanded, including the raid on the Atlanta Eagle – questioning me and walking me back to my mother, who was on street level at the McDonald’s about half a block away. But it really wasn’t until years later, when I saw friends and even strangers being abused and murdered by cops that these events took hold as being a scourge. I knew the cops were wrong to harass me even at the time, but then, I’m used to people not understanding me and not trying. Peril of being Autistic. It was only much later, after the murder of Kathryn Johnston and Jonathan Ayers -as well as the Eagle raid and police detaining two guys who were doing nothing more than driving around America in a motor home, looking for liberty – that I began to see these events in a truly different light.

So because of that, I don’t trust cops. With only one exception, because he is a member of the church I grew up in. But even my trust in him is tenuous, knowing that when it comes down to it, he will treat me as any cop would rather than the person he knows I am.

But here is where the pendulum comes in: Even I acknowledge that from time to time, I lash out in my hurt and anger. I’ve screamed people down on Facebook, I openly flip off cops as they pass me by, etc etc etc. I have friends of friends that have been hurt even more than I by cops, and they openly advocate the murder of cops. I see my actions flipping cops off as moving the pendulum back to zero – but openly advocating the murder of cops as moving the pendulum back to the other side, and adding force to it. This is not a good thing, and I’ve become at least somewhat known in the Cop Block community for standing against these people, at least as it relates to the outright murder of cops. (My caveat here being that if *anyone* is actively attacking you, you have the right to defend yourself with whatever force necessary to stop the attack – no matter the clothing they are wearing at the time.)

But then I see the people, even inside my own family, that advocate cops becoming ever more powerful. They say that cops’ jobs are dangerous and that cops “don’t know who will be taking their uniform off when they put it on in the morning”. Despite the fact that by their own numbers, cops in 2014 were literally 10,000x more likely to shoot and kill a civilian than a civilian was to shoot and kill a cop. But these people are simply being hurt and reacting to even my flipping cops off – much less the friends of friends openly calling for murder of cops. At least I choose to believe so. Particularly since these people know well my own history with cops, I really hope they are not so crass as to simply want cops to have more power, period.

So both sides get hurt, and both sides actively seek to harm the other. This just keeps the cycle of pain ever spinning, and the pendulum ever swinging.

Instead, we need people more in the middle. We need people to acknowledge the pain of both sides, and work to get back to the point we had in the days of Sheriff Taylor, when people were distrustful yet respecting of cops – and cops didn’t actively lie about people in order to steal from them or murder them. We need to reset the pendulum here to zero.

But the pendulum doesn’t just apply to cops. It applies to *all* individuals and groups. Whenever there is conflict, there is a pendulum. And there are people getting hurt and reacting to that pain – not always in people-centered manners. And if someone doesn’t actively step in to slow the pendulum in these conflicts, the pendulum will continue to swing and eventually it will go full cycle – a situation no one wants, as people *will* get hurt in the revolution. Life isn’t an amusement park pirate ship ride, where people are safely strapped in so that when the revolution happens, it is part of the fun. When the revolution happens in real life conflict, real people are going to get hurt even more.

So we *have* to have peacemakers, or at least people at least somewhat reasonable enough to acknowledge the concerns of both their camp and the opposite camp, and work for genuine reconciliation of both. Not that we will ever completely agree on anything, but enough to keep the pain of both sides to a minimum.

And I know I’m rambling, I’ve written this post in the 3a hour where even I am usually zoned out playing video games rather than doing the hard thinking of this post. But hopefully it makes some degree of sense.

A Short Post, and the Foundation of My Entire Philosophy

This just came from a discussion on Facebook, but is a very succinct statement of the entire way I look at both God and Government, as well as their interaction:

Question: What is God’s Greatest Gift to mankind?

Answer (from other participant in convo): “God gave us free will.”

Response: You said it PRECISELY: “God gave us free will.”. And just as importantly: He NEVER infringes on that free will. Indeed, it is not God who condemns us to Hell, but our exercise of that Greatest Gift. Now then, since God gave us this Greatest Gift, that DIRECTLY resulted in the necessity of the Ultimate Gift of Jesus Christ and his brutal execution in propitiation of our sins, HOW DARE Republicans and Democrats try to use the force of Government to infringe on this Greatest Gift and thus make a MOCKERY of the Ultimate Gift???”

Our Social Studies Teachers Have Failed Us

Social Studies teachers have failed America, and parents by and large have done nothing to stop this atrocity.

We all know these famous words:

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The problem is that not so many of us are as familiar with the rest of that second paragraph beyond the first sentence, where the entire case for independence from Great Britain, rather than simple autonomy within the nation, is laid out. First, we have the philosophical reasons, which are the most remarkable – and revolutionary part of the document:

— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

But perhaps Social Studies teachers have failed us even moreso than simply not teaching our kids those extra few lines. Because as revolutionary as they are, as absolutely imperative as they are, they only lay out the “ivory tower” reasons for independence. They say “this is in general why the current system of government is wrong”.

The next part goes in to say in particular why the current government is wrong:

— Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Note that of the 27 or so particular reasons that the government of King George was wrong, and so wrong that the valid philosophical reasons should be invoked in the real world at the cost of blood and fortune to the very men crafting this document and thousands of their friends, families, and countrymen, I can count at LEAST 12 *DIRECT* parallels to actions of the US Government in the course of my lifetime, and possibly as many as a dozen and a half.

But the document goes on, noting the numerous attempts made to resolve the conflict peacefully and without outright separation – something the Founding Fathers clearly saw as imperative before the “ivory tower” philosophical reasons to absolve government were invoked. Finally, it notes that since EVERYTHING ELSE has been tried, they have to admit reality: there is no other option but war, but as soon as the war is won, friendship should once again reign supreme:

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

And finally, the coup de grace, the statement that marks each of these men traitors to the country they have been a part of – and Founding Fathers and Patriots to the country they are now founding:

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Outside of the New Testament, this is the single most radical, most revolutionary document in history.

Yet our Social Studies teachers have failed us in not teaching us every aspect of it, and forcing it to memory as much as the opening two sentences.

Maybe if they had not failed us, maybe if our parents had not failed us in doing the same, MAYBE we would not be at a point where more and more, the specific reasons for separating from King George were becoming specific reasons that men like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, John Adams, and the rest would also separate themselves from the current government of the very nation they founded.

One Hot Summer

I used to be very pro-violence. Not sociopath level pro-violence, but I had a hot head and didn’t mind using my fists to settle my differences. I didn’t mind sending in the military to invade a country who had done nothing more than made fun of the US, I didn’t mind the cops “roughing up” the bad guys. In other words, I was very typical GOP – which was exactly the Party I identified with at the time.

Now, I’m not. And that is an understatement. Now, I prefer a defensive ONLY stance towards violence: So long as you don’t harm me, I won’t harm you. I will NEVER be the first to go violent – no matter how heated the rhetoric gets and honestly, no matter how much I may WANT to deck you.

What I am now is almost a polar opposite from what I was then – although I still retain the ability to get down and nasty when absolutely needed, I try EVERYTHING else first. Back then… yeah, I was known to get into fights over nothing more than a kid staring at me wrong.

So what changed between then and now?

I realized tonight it was a time and a place. It was One Hot Summer – the Summer of 2005.

At the time, I was fresh out of college and smack dab in the middle of my Year of Failure. Nothing I touched that year was going right. I couldn’t keeo a job, the only reason I had my degree was because I had finished it a year and a half earlier, I was single with no prospects ANYWHERE. It really was one of the most hopeless years I’ve ever experienced in my now 28 of them.

Even the Summer of 2005 was an immediate failure.

I landed a job I thought I could handle. It was as a wilderness counselor for a Juvenile Justice linked correctional program. I was good with working with kids – I was trying to become a teacher at the time fercryinoutloud! So I thought I could handle it.

I thought wrong. I lasted a month at that place – one of the most physically brutal times I’ve ever experienced. We were outdoors nearly 20 hrs per day, including when sleeping. Out living arrangements were tents made out of tree trunks, tarps, and twine. It was 98 degrees at 10pm a night, and you began to BEG for a thunderstorm just to make it easier to sleep.

The last week I was there, the week I left, was to be the first week of a month long training course. I had already been at the camp for 3 weeks before this, but was limited in what I could actually do due to not having yet received this training.

Part of this training was in the physical aspects of the primary part of the overall camp philosophy – it was a no punishment camp. Kids could run away from the group at will, and a counselor had to follow them and talk them into calming down. ONLY when they presented a clear and immediate danger to themselves or others were they allowed to be restrained in any way – and the proper techniques were one of the primary things we studied this first week. Everything from gentle verbal commands to arm bars to sitting total control manuevers to team holds where the kid is on his stomach with two adults on his back, as well as the proper application of handcuffs and shackles.

I went into this week calling this physical training “Combat training”, as my philosophy at the time associated it with. Remember, going into this summer, I was very pro-violence.

But it was here, after having lived the no punishment philosophy for 3 weeks and being trained in purely defensive physical restraints, that I actually came to see the benefit of a less violent philosophy.

I don’t know that it was an immediate change – actually, I’m almost certain it wasn’t. But I did come to realize based on this brutal, HOT summer, that there were other philosophies out there.

I still don’t agree with the overall “no punishment” philosophy of the camp – in fact, I often favor very draconian punishments, even now. But that summer WAS a turning point, and I don’t know that I’d be where I am without it.

Kinda crazy how One Hot Summer can change your life without you even realizing it, huh?

Michael Badnarik Gives a Strong Dose of Truth To the Libertarian Party

Badnarik was before my time in the LP – an entire Presidential cycle before. When he was the man the LP put in the Bush/Kerry 2004 race, I was still on my journey that would eventually lead me to the LP, but still had me where many of the “tea party” crowd currently is: pissed off at the GOP, but still thinking it could be reformed.

With that said, his words in this speech, in May 2010, ring all too true. Far too many in this Party would want to form a circular firing squad over differences that when compared to our differences with the Democrats and Republicans are miniscule at best. These are the experts at turning ant hills into Mt. Everest.

I Stand At the Door

Since it seems to have some bearing in some discussions of late, I figured it may be time to reintroduce people to one of the most beautiful poems I’ve ever read. Understand this poem, and you understand me. While this poem deals specifically with religion, it also applies in the way I operate in politics and many other public arenas.

So before you judge my actions, take a look at my heart. Look at what I truly am, and decide for yourself if you would rather be someone deep on the inside, inhabiting the innermost rooms “And know the depths and heights of God, And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is”. I won’t hold it against you at all if that is where you choose to be – indeed, I admire you for it.

But I am neither the missionary, tasked with going out into the land beyond the wall and bringing people to the door, nor the monk, who stays in the innermost rooms in awe. I am the doorkeeper, tasked with standing at the door and saving as many seekers as I possibly can, acting as an interface between the monks and the outside world, many of whom will never understand the monks at all.

Without further ado, “I Stand At the Door”, by Sam Shoemaker. This edition copied from TheJayWalker.com

I Stand at the Door

By Sam Shoemaker (from the Oxford Group)

I stand by the door.
I neither go to far in, nor stay to far out.
The door is the most important door in the world –
It is the door through which men walk when they find God.
There is no use my going way inside and staying there,
When so many are still outside and they, as much as I,
Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where the door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind men,
With outstretched, groping hands,
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it.
So I stand by the door.

The most tremendous thing in the world
Is for men to find that door – the door to God.
The most important thing that any man can do
Is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands
And put it on the latch – the latch that only clicks
And opens to the man’s own touch.

Men die outside the door, as starving beggars die
On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter.
Die for want of what is within their grasp.
They live on the other side of it – live because they have not found it.

Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it,
And open it, and walk in, and find Him.
So I stand by the door.

Go in great saints; go all the way in –
Go way down into the cavernous cellars,
And way up into the spacious attics.
It is a vast, roomy house, this house where God is.
Go into the deepest of hidden casements,
Of withdrawal, of silence, of sainthood.
Some must inhabit those inner rooms
And know the depths and heights of God,
And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is.
Sometimes I take a deeper look in.
Sometimes venture in a little farther,
But my place seems closer to the opening.
So I stand by the door.

There is another reason why I stand there.
Some people get part way in and become afraid
Lest God and the zeal of His house devour them;
For God is so very great and asks all of us.
And these people feel a cosmic claustrophobia
And want to get out. ‘Let me out!’ they cry.
And the people way inside only terrify them more.
Somebody must be by the door to tell them that they are spoiled.
For the old life, they have seen too much:
One taste of God and nothing but God will do any more.
Somebody must be watching for the frightened
Who seek to sneak out just where they came in,
To tell them how much better it is inside.
The people too far in do not see how near these are
To leaving – preoccupied with the wonder of it all.
Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door
But would like to run away. So for them too,
I stand by the door.

I admire the people who go way in.
But I wish they would not forget how it was
Before they got in. Then they would be able to help
The people who have not yet even found the door.
Or the people who want to run away again from God.
You can go in too deeply and stay in too long
And forget the people outside the door.
As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,
Near enough to God to hear Him and know He is there,
But not so far from men as not to hear them,
And remember they are there too.

Where? Outside the door –
Thousands of them. Millions of them.
But – more important for me –
One of them, two of them, ten of them.
Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch.
So I shall stand by the door and wait
For those who seek it.

‘I had rather be a door-keeper
So I stand by the door.

Ever Notice?

Have you ever noticed how dark the night sky is on a new moon?

Have you ever noticed how bright the night sky is on a full moon?

All the moon does is reflect the light of the Sun.

Kinda makes you wonder about what happens when Christians, who are supposed to reflect the light of the Son, withdraw into their own world…

Powerful Stuff Indeed

My friend Doug Rea has an excellent post up on his site called ‘Stop the Building‘. It explains some key foundations as to what he feels is wrong with the Modern Church, and I completely concur. Below is an excerpt, but I HIGHLY encourage you to go read the full thing!

For centuries, ministry was about the building; The “House of God,” and dare we defile it. The church building was the holy sanctuary of the Christian faith. There we could once again have our sins resolved, our offering taken, our songs sung, and our service to God performed. (Sound familiar?)

Even as late as the 20th century, ministry successs was defined by the facility. How many it could hold, family life centers, and coffee shops redefined what the church has become. Now we had praise teams, choruses and projected our words using the overhead. Finally we come to today. How silly to wear a 3 piece suite like the 80’s and to use hymnals. Now we can now relate the message to people in a manner that is relevant thanks to video, iPhones, Facebook, Twitter, podcasts, blogs, and other means of modern communication. I am pro-use of all these things.

But I have to ask, “Has anything really changed since the Gothic days of cathedrals?”
I am speaking of those days where a certain pattern of behavior known as worship was performed each and every Sunday, by a few trained professionals, to an audience who was basically spectators.

I submit little has changed.

Just as in the days of old, the pinnacle of ministry is about a facility and not a people. The defining moment in the life of a church is more often the first service in the new building than it is how the people meeting the needs of one another.