Why Everything Does Not Happen For A Reason

It’s exhausting enough to endure the dark hours here and not lose our religion, without the addition of a Maker who also makes us bleed. Instead, I prefer to understand God as One who bleeds along with us; Who sits with us in our agony and weeps, not causing us our distress but providing a steady, holy presence in it. This still leaves me with the nagging question of why this God can’t or won’t always remove these burdens from me, but it does allow me to better see the open opportunity provided in tragedy.

Source:  Why Everything Does Not Happen For A Reason

Stuff that needs to be said – by John Pavlovitz…..

And we wonder why people are skeptical of “the church?”

And here’s the really crazy part of all of this: When Christian leaders like yourselves look around incredulously and ask why people are exiting and disowning the Church in massive numbers? It’s because of this. It’s junk like this. It’s leaders like you. It’s the testosterone-fueled hubris you perpetuate that makes following Jesus a really tough sell for those who witness it. There’s a profound disconnect between the ministry he was building and what this is, and people can see it from a mile away.

Source: Matt Chandler, Village Church, Acts 29 Network, and The Long Overdue Funeral of Frat Boy Christianity | john pavlovitz

The “Vanderwell Rule of 50%”

As we as a world, as a church and as fellow believers wrestle with a variety of really tough issues, I believe that it’s important to run anyone and everyone’s opinions and statements through “The Vanderwell Rule of 50%.”

What’s that?  Take any statement that someone makes, reduce it by 50% and if it still sounds reasonable then it’s probably valid.  

“The War on Poverty is responsible for making racism worse?”    Okay, look at it, if you said that the “War on Poverty” and the creation of the welfare state “had an impact” on the health of the families of color in our country, would that be a true statement?

“Democrats are responsible for all of the racist programs that the government has implemented.”    Seriously, do we even need to discuss this one?   

All Christians think the Duggars are _________.   Nope, not going to touch that one other than to say that any sort of abuse is wrong.    But saying that all Christians think…….?    

I could go on with literally 1000s (okay, apply that rule and make it 100’s of examples.   But I hope you get the point.

When someone says something, makes a blanket statement about an issue, claims that everyone thinks this, or everyone knows that, apply the Vanderwell rule of 50%.

If what they said about the impact of the welfare state on the family structure of people of color was onbly half true, would it still be an issue?

If so, then it’s probably worth considering.

But if you reduce it by 50% and it’s still totally out of the realm of reality, then it’s probably safe to say that it’s that person’s opinion but not necessarily fact.

There are a lot of tough issues right now, ISIS, human trafficking, corrupt adoption practices, rampant child abuse, governmnent corruption, political maneuvering for personal gain.

Let’s not let things slide that God calls us to care about, but let’s also make sure we’re getting “worked up”

 about the things that need us to be worked up about.

*breathe in……. breathe out*


The War on Poverty–Who Won? Who Lost?

(Note:  This is one opinion about one portion of the very complex and challenging problems of racism.   It has been brought to my attention by people who are much more widely read than I am that this opinion varies from their view of it.   So, take it for what it’s worth – the thoughts of one concerned Dad trying to make the world a better place)

So, yesterday we looked at the FHA and how the government’s rules regarding mortgage lending actually helped create ghettos and create the “seeds” of the problems that many of our big cities face.   You can read about that at “Did FHA create Ferguson and Baltimore?”

Today, I want to look at a different topic – but still under the standpoint of government policies.   It’s the War on Poverty.

Not the War on Terror, the War on Poverty.    First a few overview highlights of the War on Poverty:

  • It was started by President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s but was long seen as a “step #2” of what President Roosevelt did in 1933 to 1935 and was called “The New Deal.”
  • While the statistics to prove it’s success are marginal at best, there is no question that it grew and greatly expanded the number of government programs and government subsidies that were made available to supposedly help (first clue as to who lost.)

Now two definitions for you to consider – and these are terms that those who are involved in humanitarian assistance, mission work, international development and more wrestle with a LOT.

“Hand out” – This is where someone is given something strictly because it might appear that they need it.   It has no long term benefit, it doesn’t make them a better person, it just meets or appears to meet an immediate need.

“Hand up” – This is where someone isn’t given something without strings attached but instead is taught, assisted, helped through a rough time with a definitive goal of getting back on their feet and doing things for themselves.

I’m sure you’ve hear the saying,  “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day.   Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.”

The War on Poverty had a couple of ramifications that we’re paying the price for in today’s society:

  • Rather than giving those suffering from poverty the opportunity to turn their situation around and the opportunity to make their lives better, the War on Poverty consisted of a LOT of handouts.  Repeat after me,  “The creation of the welfare state.”
  • The creation of the welfare state increased dependence on the government.   It created a “class” in the American society that viewed (currently views) Uncle Sam as the “provider of all things good.”
  • If Uncle Sam is the provider of all things good, what happens to the view of the men in the poverty stricken areas?   They are viewed as not being as important.    “I don’t need you, I’ve got my welfare checks from Uncle Sam.”
  • So, for years, the black man, living in the ghetto, was sometimes subtly and sometimes more bluntly told that they aren’t important.   You aren’t needed and aren’t valued, so what happens?   Many turn to a life of crime – either to get more “stuff” so that  people will think they are important or to have an opportunity where people are scared of them and listen to them, like they are “somebody.”   Even if that somebody is a bad dude……
  • Crime goes up, the cops due their jobs and what do we end up with?   We end up with a prison system that has substantially higher portions of their population that  are persons of color.  These are people who came from the ghettos that our lending system created and our welfare system deepened.
  • So we have a lot of kids who are growing up with absent fathers because their fathers are in jail.   So they repeat the cycle.

So, who won in the “War on Poverty?”

Those who were “in poverty” and over the age of 65 saw a large increase in their social security checks.   I’d say they won.

Those who work in the government departments that were created or expanded to administer the welfare programs.   I’d say they won.

The politicians who got elected, supported and reelected because of what they would do to get “Uncle Sam’ to take care of you.    I’d say they won.

The persons of color who were “pushed” to live in ghettos (see previous article) and now were given welfare by the government in ways that would get them hooked on it and not doing things for themselves.    I’d say they lost.

The male population of people of color who were marginalized and criminalized due to many factors but a large component of it was that Uncle Sam took away most of the reasons they might feel needed and useful.    Without feeling needed and useful, it’s easy to lose hope.  I’d say they lost.

The War on Poverty – it sounds good.    But the reality is far from good.

The reality is that the “War on Poverty” as a government policy, did more to hurt the structure and integrity of the family in the areas where poverty was most prevalent than it did to help it.

The government, in their “effort” to help, actually created the breeding ground for troubles like Ferguson and Baltimore.

“We’re from the government and we’re here to help.”

Yeah, not so much.