Tuesday, April 24, 2007
I hope you will view this and see if you agree with me on what my generation has accomplished in the name of Free Will and Free Speech. Have we lost control and are now reaping what we have sown?
How do we get the pendulum to swing back toward center?
Thursday, April 19, 2007
This trial is being viewed live on a local TV station’s cable access channel, replayed nightly from 7PM to 11PM on this same cable channel. It is also seen live over the TV station’s web site in streaming video, by streaming video on the internet from the Nashville Tennessean newspaper web site and from the Jackson, TN. Jackson Sun web site.
Watching the replay of the Mary Winkler trial tonight makes me so sad. Regardless of the outcome of this trial, no one wins, most of all the three surviving children of Matthew and Mary.
The trial has also put the Church of Christ on trial as well. It started early on with the statements of "strictness of the church, the teaching and beliefs of the church and the attitude of the church." Many of the “opinion” callers and people who e-mail into the TV station have expressed some very harsh comments about the church and their conceived beliefs of what the Church of Christ is about.
The TV commentators, Nick Bares and Attorney Nick Bailey have repeatedly said that the Church of Christ is not on trial, Mary Winkler is the one on trial. That is true from their viewpoint. But, shouldn’t the church be on trial too?
If the church, (its prominent preachers, teachers, authors, universities, etc.) have created such an environment that contributed to this tragedy, isn’t there some responsibility on the part of the church? Not to change Christ, not to change the scriptures, but to question the environment we as believers have taken that has created an environment of secrets, by presenting the front of happy, healthy, productive lives and marriages. Then, finding out through court testimony that this marriage may not have been the same as what was presented for the public. There are questions of mental abuse, possibly some physical abuse and even testimony about questionable behavior with the children. Regardless of what is believed from the testimony or to what degree you may believe the testimony, there was obviously problems between these two people. Obviously, neither of them sought out help from family, close friends or their church family, or especially their church family. Have the teachings we have in the Church of Christ created such situations of secrecy and hiding, putting on fronts, creating two faces.
James 5:16 (NIV) says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
As a child growing up in the church, this verse meant to go forward during an assembly and make a confession and have a prayer said for forgiveness. It was a major thing to walk the aisle. It was a major thing to go forward and write out your statement and have the preacher say a prayer. I don’t recall anything beyond this event.
Have we created such an environment of strictness that we forgot about love? Have we created such an environment or law, that we forgot about grace and mercy? Have we created such an environment that we have forgotten about Matthew 19:19, Matthew 22:36-39? Have we created the environment that is quick to judge and slow to help? Have we created the environment that has forgotten how to treat a brother or sister in Christ with an open heart who needs help?
In watching this trial and seeing both families sitting across the court room aisle from each other, I can not help but ask myself questions like, does this testimony make Matthew’s parents question if they really knew their son, if Mary’s family had any idea of her possible abusive situation? If any of the friends or people they may have associated with in the churches they attended have gone back and thought of situations that now trigger something that says, if I had paid attention to that then, could I have diverted this tragedy? Or, do we put this in our denial box and say this is not what it seemed, the only problem was with Mary, money and that is the only reason why Matthew is dead? Could not all of these alleged problems be intertwined and have contributed to this horrible situation? If any of these people that personally knew them, are thinking what did I miss, what did I not pay attention to and what could I have done to have made a difference?
What does this do for what we refer to as the un-churched? What view does this leave with people looking for God? What does this do and how does this alienate people who are making a decision about the Church of Christ or believers in general? Matthew Winkler was a 31 year old man who came from a long line of Church of Christ preachers, had a career of being a youth minister and now a pulpit minister for the Fourth Street Church of Christ in Selmer, Tennessee. Because of the publicity of this trial and the ties to the Church of Christ and the stereotyping of the Church of Christ, the church has been on trial over beliefs of the man’s role in the home and in church, the woman’s role in the home and in the church and how it was portrayed as an item in this trial. Fairly or unfairly, the church has been and is judged on the perceptions generated by the viewers of this trial.
This home had obvious problems. These problems were obviously hidden and kept secret from people who were close to them. Shouldn’t this make us as believers and part of the Church of Christ open our eyes? Shouldn’t this cause us to question how we portray and teach the scriptures? Not to change Christ or the scriptures, but to change the environment we can create by the things in the scriptures we stress in teaching. By the attitudes we have or by the stereotypes we give credence for others to believe, the stereotypes we ourselves make more believable.
Of this particular trial and situation, everyone comes out with a huge loss. Matthew Winkler lost his life; Mary Winkler lost her husband, her freedom, her children, her in-laws and many friends and acquaintances. Dan and Diane Winkler lost a son, a daughter-in-law and probably friends who have picked a side in this trial. The Freeman family lost a son-in-law, years of contact with a daughter, and possibly three grandchildren. The Church of Christ has seemed to have lost some credibility over questions of the “interpreted and perceived beliefs” of the church over a man’s supremacy in the church, supremacy over women and control in the home. All have lost.
I don’t have answers, only more questions. I see the need for the church to not sit in a corner with hands over their eyes and ears, and take a role in changing the environment to openness, love, help and addressing problems like these.
Just in my lifetime, 1957 to present, we have gone from segregation to inclusion to inclusion with qualifications. What I mean by inclusion with qualifications is that we have identified Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, Gay Americans, Straight Americans and so forth. We have fragmented America. Instead of just being AMERICANS, we are now “Specific Community or Group” Americans. Then we have the further fragmentation of each group or community because it is looking for its own special treatment. Its own special rules, its own special authority, its own special power.
“One Nation under God, indivisible” in the National Anthem has been diluted to the point it seems not to have the same meaning it did when it was scribed almost 200 years ago. Pride in self and country has been lost. And my generation appears to be the guilty party. During the same time we were going through the Civil Rights Movement, we (my generation) was also starting free love, the ME generation, the power generation, the start of the latch key kids, don’t punish children by spanking, Dr. Spock, Mr. Spock, Sun Myung Moon, Moonies, Moon rocks, Mood ring, love beads, free love, Woodstock, pure logic, zero population growth, flower child. expand your mind - expand your conscience, doing my own thing, don’t get involved, looking out for number 1, discrimination, Affirmative Action, Reverse Discrimination, Age Discrimination, Gender Discrimination, Sexual Orientation Discrimination, regulation, deregulation, Medicare, Medicaid, and I am sure that you can add so many more of these. We have apparently forgotten and we quit teaching ourselves and the generations that have followed that it’s not just about me. It is about we! It is about being involved, caring for my neighbor; it is about being a friend.
The result is that each person is out for their own benefits. Each person does not want to be bothered, just let me do “my own thing.” The result is many fragmented communities in this country all looking for special treatment. We have lowered standards to be inclusive, rather than raise standards to achieve the best. We have settled for less so we don’t have hurt feelings. We have settled for less so to satisfy our own conscience. We have settled for less so that we don’t have losers, everybody wins. We have enabled a generation or several generations at mediocrity. We have enabled a generation or generations that believe clothes, style and fashion is worth more than self pride and self value. We have created and enabled double standards. What have we really won?
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Sent to me by Alice Miller, a co-worker at Windsor Medicare Extra.
Sunday, April 8, 2007
Seated: Patty Thedford, Al Griner (guest of Patty), Inez Stubblefield, Standing: Curt Stubblefield and Ora Kay Thedford.
Easter 2007 was full of events. We began our morning at 8 AM services at Antioch. We left the building to head over to Carestone Assisted Living to help with the service for the residents there. That is always a big blessing to see how strong and faithful they are to come to the lobby for our time together. After the Carestone service we headed to Gaylord Springs (Springhouse) Gold Club for their Easter Brunch. We had a great day to celebrate Easter and spend time with family.
Monday, April 2, 2007
Matthew 5:13-16 (New International Version)
13"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
I took a small solar spotlight from our yard. I used the analogy that some scientist developed this solar powered device after reading Matthew 5. In these verses we are taught that we are the light of the world because of Jesus. Just as the solar light collects light and energy, then utilizes it when there is no light, so are we. Jesus told us to collect the light, the goodness of God and reflect that light to everyone around us. We are to "collect light, so we can reflect light."
After the service one of the residents, Mrs. Burns stopped me and said that the lesson really hit her today. I asked her what she meant when she said really hit her? She said that she needed to do better. I told her that she probably had no idea of how much good she had done, how much of an example she had been and how many people she had influenced over her life. And I said that our imperfections were covered by grace. She said, "she hoped so." I told her that the bible said so and I believed it. In Mrs. Burns long life, she is still wanting to do more. I understand her heart and see the need for more Mrs. Burns' in the world.