Updates from September, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • ivanildotrindade 5:07 pm on September 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: attack in libya, bridges to cross, , evil in the world, innocence of muslims, jesus' wife, Libya, Mary Magdalene, , religious persecution, the last temptation of christ, the problem of evil, violence in islam   

    The Muslim Across the Street is NOT My Enemy 

    I disagree with those who are saying that the recent deadly attack on the American Embassy in Libya was the result of protests gone awry. There is no question that some radical militants have seized the opportunity afforded them by the anti-Islamic YouTube so-called movie “Innocence of Muslims,” but to say that this was the reason for the attack is a bit of a stretch.

    Some Americans still need to wake up to one simple reality: there is, after all, good and evil in this world. Now I am not saying that we are good and everyone else is evil. That would be ethnocentric and arrogant. But to recognize that there is evil is like saying that the sun is hot. Let me say it then as clearly as I can: every day there are people who wake up in some dark corners of this earth and go about one and only one activity — devising ways they can inflict the most extensive damage and cause the greatest possible pain against the United States of America and what this country stands for.

    Actually, I should revise that statement: there are people who do that 24-7. They have taken a secret vow to bring destruction not only to a country but to an entire civilization.

    Now I don’t think anyone knows how many people like that are out there. And no one can say what they look like or when they are about to strike. We can’t even say which religion they belong to. They may not belong to any religion, even if they claim they do.

     

    This is not to say that we don’t know what the biggest threat to Christianity and Western Civilization is — a radical strand of Islam which is uncompromisingly violent and unashamedly zealot for the destruction of Israel and the church.

    Just one simple fact will suffice: it is undeniable that today whenever a Muslim fundamentalist group ascends to power Christians starting running for their lives. Their churches are burned, their families are decimated. Persecution against Christians and other religious minorities is still a fact of life in about 60 countries around the world, the vast majority being those dominated by a radical Islamic ideology.

    Muslims who disagree with this form of Islam are embarrassed. The media is usually cornered into silence for fear of violent retaliation. Muslims in the West who would protest fear for the lives of their loved ones still living in those countries. Blasphemy laws are still prevalent in so many Muslim countries and Christians can be put on trial and get stiff sentences, including death, for any perceived violation of such laws, however small the “offense” might be.

    Some brave miniscule weeklies dare to publish cartoons containing images of Muhammad that   are considered offensive by some in Islam (by the way, some of those pictures are offensive). Though I don’t agree with vacuous provocations, I do think that if no one dares challenge this violent strand of Islam in the media, we will eventually find the muzzle nearer out mouths than we wish.

    Religious people in the U.S. are by now used to having precious symbols of their faiths vilified and trampled upon. Whether it is an “artist” who depicts the Virgin Mary with human feces or a movie about a Jesus Christ who was having an affair with Mary Magdalene, we have grown accustomed to this kind of abuse. We get outraged by this and stage a few anemic protests and meaningless boycotts, but in the end we go home and sleep quietly in our own beds, sad for the insult, but glad that the world didn’t go up in flames and neighbors who disagree can still say “good morning” when the day is new.

    You may not like the system and it certainly is brutal at times for those who chose to believe (and it is brutal as well for those who chose NOT to believe). But in the end, I would rather contend with those who sit behind cameras and keyboards than with those who would make bombs.

    I don’t know about you, but I personally yearn for the day when evil will be no more. Meanwhile, I ask God to give me the ability to understand that the person across the street, though from a different country and a different faith, is not my enemy by default.

    I still have bridges to cross. Thanks for leaving them standing.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

    “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Words of Jesus).

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  • ivanildotrindade 7:17 pm on September 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: atheist minister, funerals without God, greg epstein, hope of resurrection, losing a baby   

    Funerals Without God 

    A dark night fell on a young couple from our church on Monday. They lost their infant baby girl only 5 days from the delivery date. I was called to the hospital and spent a couple of hours there with this couple and some family members. They asked for me because they knew my wife and I had a similar experience years ago. Our son would be 24 this year in October. Going to that hospital room and feeling the heaviness of that loss brought back so many memories. I am gathering up the strength to do the funeral on Friday, but even through the fragility of it all, I am still confident in the hope of the resurrection which is rooted in the reality of Christ’s resurrection on a Sunday morning outside of Jerusalem.

    Since I am out of ideas for new material today, I went back to something I wrote in 2008. It is much longer than my usual stuff here and a little more “combative,” but I hope you will read it. Here it goes:

    Some time ago I read an article about a 30 year old Harvard Chaplain, Greg Epstein, who is an avowed atheist and an up and coming humanist voice in this world of confused allegiances. Though he is not by any stretch a unanimity among humanists (as he prefers to refer to himself), he is certainly generating a lot of buzz on the blogsphere.

    What caught my attention more than anything in this article, though, was the reporter’s description of funerals without God, which Epstein conducts for those who do not believe. Who would have thought, a man who dares offer comfort in the face of death without a theological framework!

    This article made me think of a chapter in Ravi Zacharias’ Can Man Live Without God? There is a section there titled “Where is Antitheism When it Hurts?” A passage in that section is particularly disturbing. It describes a funeral in which one person in the audience felt utterly disappointed and let down because instead of offering any kind of hope the priest made a political statement about how we need to dedicate more funding to fight certain kinds of diseases, etc.

    The thought of conducting a funeral without God is so preposterous to me that I dared to do something I had never done before — I wrote an atheistic sermon! Before you read on and perhaps think unkind thoughts about my audacity, please, consider this: I’ve yet to see any atheist or agnostic organization flock to a campus, such as Virginia Tech last year, on the aftermath of the terrible shootings that happened there, and offer real hope to a community in search of meaning and solace.

    Now I am not saying this has never been tried before. I am questioning whether it really works. I am saying that when tragedy hits us and our dark hour threatens to engulf us, it is those who have a connection with God, or are perceived to have a connection with God, that are sought after.

    So at the risk of exposing my insanity, I offer atheists a script of what a funeral sermon without God should look like. Obviously, Epstein is not asking for one and his would no doubt be more eloquent than mine. But would it be more truthful?

    I am talking about a sermon that would tell it the way it is, no sugar coating, no empty talk; the is the equivalent of what people in my circles call a “come to Jesus talk,” only in this case it would be more like a “come to nothing” talk.

    This is a sermon without God about the death of a fictional young female called Jane, who died a tragic and unexpected death from cancer and left a couple of kids behind. Her family and a small band of friends are there to hear the “holey” homily. Here is how I imagine it to be. Read it and tell me what you think:

    “I want to thank you for coming this morning. I know we are all overwhelmed and saddened by the sudden death of our beloved Jane. And I know you all came to her funeral because you wanted to honor her memory. But I would be foolish if I didn’t think you also came here in search of some answers. After all, she has just been removed from us. Yesterday she was here, today we are here but she isn’t. Tomorrow we ourselves might be gone. There is some persistent finality in this and we all struggle to make sense of it all.

    Well, as your local atheist minister, I have news for you: Your answers are as good as mine. I would love to be able to tell you that I know where your loved one is now, or even that I believe I know where your loved one is now, but that would be a lie. The truth is, since I don’t believe in life after death, I think this was the end for her. Like a candle that gently burns until its flickering light is no more, such is the fate of all of us mortals. There is no coming back, no “Mommy will be watching us from up there,” no “God called her to his side,” no “Mommy is an angel in heaven now,” talk. Not even “she will come back in another life.”

    The only thing I can say for certain is that Jane is no longer suffering. As we all know, her last days here on earth were of intense suffering. Well, now we should take consolation in the fact that she is no longer in pain. It’s all gone now. Of course, she is gone too and that’s why we should all get mad at a god – if there were only – who permits such dreaded diseases to run rampant in this word.

    And for all of you who might believe something different, I invite you to look at Jane’s body. You look at her and the same beautiful face, the shy smile, the mischievous look, are still there, but we all know Jane is not there. There is no evidence that she went anywhere and all of those who went before her and all of us who will one day follow her – no one has ever come back to tell the story. At least no one that we can irrefutably say was dead has come back.

    I know there are writings about a dead Nazarene carpenter who was supposedly buried for three days and came back to life. But these, along with other ancient stories, are myths our modern minds, enlightened by science, cannot accept as facts. If you, however, insist on believing such things, I respect you, but I would have to keep my children away from you in fear that your fancy ideas might poison their little brains. Nothing personal, though.

    Lest you think that I am only a secular version of a prophet of doom, I would like to say that though we don’t have ultimate answers to the problem of death and we are fairly certain that life as we know it is a product of natural selection, randomly but determinedly working to make us who we are; though we may not know exactly what our purpose here on earth is, and I am reasonably sure that there is nothing unique about this planet we call “earth,” or the humans who live here, in spite of all of this, there is still a multitude of things we can do to honor Jane’s life with all the creative powers that are within each one of us.

    You can go home and hug your children and promise them you will always be there for them, no matter what. We already heard that Jane was such a dedicated mother to her young children and though I can’t say that she is there for them in any physical sense now, there is a sense in which the memory of who she was, her gracious spirit, her generosity, her tireless work for people who were disadvantaged, all of these things will remain with us as long as we live. I know this will be a great source of comfort to her children and to all of us who are, were, her friends.

    I have asked the ushers to hand each of us a freshly cut beautiful white rose from Ecuador. I hope you will take one as you leave this morning. They were Jane’s favorite flowers and their wonderful, exuberant scent reminds us of the new season of Spring which this day is just announcing. It speaks of new beginnings, which death always sort of signifies — at least for the ones who remain living.

    Please, take the flower home with you and care for it for the next few days. I know that just like our life, the flower is going to eventually wither and die. But while you have it, enjoy it, smell it, feed it, and tenderly handle it. We have even included a small flyer explaining how you can make your flower last longer. May this rose be a reminder to all of us that there is still a lot of work to be done, in order to make this world a better place. May we not falter, even if we know we only have a window of time to achieve our goal.

    I hope you will draw strength from the energy found in this beautiful flower. May it remind you of Jane’s beautiful life and may we all resolve to continue her fight to make this world a just and equitable place for all. Perhaps, in doing this, we may find some semblance of meaning here while we await for that inevitable end.”

    There it is. You feel reassured yet? Let me simply say this: I am just glad I will never have to preach it. Better yet: I am delighted I don’t NEED to ever preach it.

    Reverend humanist Epstein: try this one at Virginia Tech or at the West Nickel Mines School in Pennsylvania.

    “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.” (Jesus Christ).

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
  • ivanildotrindade 3:33 pm on September 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: David Letterman, Farrah Fawcett, Freddie, Hollywood, joachin phoenix, Paul Thomas Anderson, Phoenix, the master   

    Joachin Phoenix Still Scares Me 

    Joachin Phoenix is back in the news. The last time I saw him he was stumbling through an interview on the set of the David Letterman show. He looked disoriented, to say the least, to the delight of his host, who sometimes looks for the comic in the tragic. At the end of the interview, with the crowd laughing audibly, Mr. Letterman quipped that they would have to issue an apology to Farrah Fawcett (for her equally confused appearance on his show in 1997).

    Anyway, at that time he was trying to tell David Letterman that he was done with acting. He was now working on becoming a rapper. Well, two years later and still no rapping hit to his name, he is back on the big screen portraying “Freddie” in the movie “The Master,” directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.

    I have not seen the movie nor do I know if I will see it. But from the reviews I have read, it looks like people will soon forget Mr. Phoenix’s performance on the David Letterman show (and even his more bizarre appearance on the “documentary” “I am still here) and will start talking about potentially another Academy nomination for his performance, which is supposed to be brilliant in this movie, which opens this Friday.

    There is a part of me that is happy for Mr. Phoenix. He is certainly a multi-talented actor, deep and little nuanced in his interpretations. He is all in and can be raw talent at times. Everyone seems to agree that he’s got what it takes, so it seems reasonable to assume that he will probably continue to to make great movies. And that is the part that makes me happy.

    But there is also something about him that still scares me. In fact, the director of “The Master” may have said it best, when he was considering him for the part of “Freddie.” He said, “Joachin scares me, in a good way.” Well, I don’t know if the latter part of that statement reflects my sentiment. He just plain scares me… in a serious way.

    I still remember Mr. Phoenix as largely living on the edge. Maybe he walks a fine line between sanity and insanity. But some people would say that is true of all of us, to a certain extent. Or maybe he is still so grief-stricken by the tragic death of his older brother River, also an accomplished actor and musician, who died of an overdose of cocaine and heroine in the early morning hours of October 21, 1993.

    Joachin, his sister Rain, and some other family and friends were present when River collapsed on the sidewalk of a hotel in California. They attempted to revive him, to no avail. How can you possibly forget the pain of such a sudden departure? Mr. Phoenix seems to be a classic representative of a group of young artists whose life early on has been marked by tragedy, addiction, and neglect so deep that it threatens to swallow them up at any moment. They live in a parallel universe, so it seems, between total brilliance and total dejection. At one moment creating prolifically; at another destroying furiously, their art being the only thing that gives them a sense of worth.

    So it is no wonder that Joachin wanted to leave the milieu that so prematurely harvested his brother’s life. It is no surprise he may have wanted a clean break. But now he is back at it and deeply in it.  Can he survive the rush of attention again and find enduring solace for his soul? The are, I believe, some holes in the heart that cannot be completely filled, even with the adulation of the media and fans the world over. There are pains that require so much soul-searching and divine intervention that it would be doubtful (though not impossible) that anyone embracing and breathing the fast pace Hollywood lane can attain.

    I like Mr. Phoenix. I wish him the best. And I don’t mean only on the silver screen. I wish he will find peace and look for help in the right places. I wish his friends will be truthful with him and not simply “leave him be.”

    I hope that in the end Mr. Phoenix will find the kind of peace that surpasses all understanding and that he will be able to come to discover that in his brokenness, he can find healing; in his brilliance, he can find a quiet place for humbly acknowledging that when it comes to matters of the soul, when everything also fails, he must do what the old philosophy professor told his freshman class: “Go to church!”

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
  • ivanildotrindade 9:39 pm on September 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: dog mourning, dog sleeps on grave, dogs have souls, , learning from animals, loss, loyal dog, loyal dogs   

    A Dog Teaches a Human an Old Trick 

    There are things neither evolution nor theism can explain. In Argentina a dog named “Capitán” has been sleeping on his former owner’s grave for the last six years. Every night, according to the caretaker of the cemetery, at 6:00 pm sharp, the dog assumes its post and stays there all night.

    No one knows how the dog found the cemetery to begin with since it stayed home on the day of the funeral, but the fact is that after the owner’s passing, the dog found its way through the city of Cordoba until it found the scent identified with the man it once knew. (But didn’t the man already stink, thus emitted a different odor?). Maybe the dog followed the residues of the smell on the clothes of the people who attended the funeral? Or maybe it “talked” to other dogs living nearby? Or maybe the former owner had taken it there on a premonitory trip? Who knows?

    No matter. The dog disappeared shortly after the funeral and the family thought it had been run over. After one week, when they went back to the cemetery, they found the dog keeping vigil on the grave. When it saw them, it emitted sounds that appeared to be the sounds of wailing.

    But that is not all. After returning home for a few days, the dog returned to the cemetery for apparently it could not bear the thought of being that far away from the remains of its owner.

    Now how do you explain that? At the risk of showing my ignorance here, I imagine that evolution would possibly say that it is purely instinctive. But how come other dogs don’t exhibit such signs of loyalty? And what “advantages” for the survival of the species would this behavior bring? Theologians would have nothing to say. After all, for so many of them dogs don’t even have a soul. But how can you be so loyal without a soul?

    I don’t know what to say either, but here is what I have learned from “Capitán”:

    1. There are some bonds that transcend the grave. I find in this story some indirect evidence that there is something in all beings that is intangible but real — some kind of a “soul connection” that apparently even animals can feel. This should give pause to those who believe that the material is all there is.

    2. Dogs have this almost innate ability to know who their owner is. In a home with several people, how do dogs know who their real “papa” is? Is it related to how much love and care they receive or do they simply “pick” someone? And is this knack for branding only innate to animals? I once heard someone say “I am a fool for Jesus, whose fool are you?” Is it true that someone always has our heart or is there someone out there whose lord is only herself?

    3. Grief is the deepest, most heartbreaking feeling anyone can ever experience. It’s been with us as long as humans have been around. If a dog can express its sadness over separation from a human, imagine what this sort of tear of the soul can do to a human being… Never underestimate the power of a loss. That is why I personally am happy that for me there is hope beyond the grave.

    I never knew a dog could teach me lessons, but today I take my hats off to “Oh Captain, my captain,” faithful in life, loyal in death. Long live el “Capitán”!

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
  • ivanildotrindade 8:29 pm on September 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , democratic platform, in god we trust, , taking god out   

    The Democratic Convention — putting God back where He doesn’t belong! 

    God has been rejected, mocked, laughed at, discarded, even killed. This week He was removed. Now, if they removed God from the dollar bills it would there would be an uproar. If they removed Him from the Bible, it would start a religious war. If they removed Him from their lives, it would be a matter of choice. People do that every day. But removing Him from a Political Party Platform, you would think nobody would care, but you would be wrong.

    It took an act of God to put God back in the Democratic Party political platform. L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa, the poor guy presiding the vote, had to ask it three times. He looked befuddled. He wanted to call his mama and might have possibly done some liquid (or worse) damage to his pants. In the end, the opinion of the chair had to coincide with the opinion of the man sitting in the Oval Office. I can only imagine the frantic phone call that originated from the White House the day before: “I don’t care what it takes — put God back where He doesn’t belong!”

    God has a way of scoffing at His critics. In the 60’s they declared him dead. It turns out the rumors of his demise were a little premature.  Richard Dawkins took 300 pages to call God a “delusion.” If he is correct, then all the Democrats are delusional for squabbling over a delusional thought. Christopher Hitchens said God was not great but if he was right there should be no offense leaving him out of a great political party platform. Non-greatness does not belong with greatness, so why mess with a good thing?

    Whether you like this or not, somebody tried to remove the word “God” from the document that would guide the Democratic Party for the next four years. Just so you know, I can care less whether God is in or out of a political party document. It is meaningless because those documents have no teeth, no real relevance, no force of law.

    But if there is a lesson to learn it is that you don’t mess with God. “The one who sits in heaven laughs,” the Psalmist said. And so the comedians in heaven had a field day. “God is out, God is in. Wait, almost in, yes in; but no one knows for sure.”

    So the next time anyone tries to remove God from a meaningless political document, think again. Mess with the 10 commandments, take prayer out of the public schools, take the Christ out of Christmas but by God, don’t ever ever try to remove Him from the Democratic Platform. God is watching and He is keeping score!

    God 1. Fringe Democrats 0.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
    • stanchaz 9:08 pm on September 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      The Democrats do not need to “restore” God.
      For unlike Republican hypocrites, they LIVE their values. Honestly.
      The Republicans real god is MONEY, and THEIR saints are those
      who have LOTS of it….and want it ALL.
      Those Republicans who would destroy Social Security & voucher Medicare to death,
      who would cut Pell grants, and who readily admit they “don’t care about the very poor”
      should stop, remember, and take to heart the ancient words so relevant for today:
      “Whatsoever you do for the least of these – you do for me”.
      There is God in each of us. And that is why we are bound to each other.
      If we do not believe that, and act upon that – then we are lost.
      As the Catholic Bishops agreed : The politics of Romney/Ryan masquerades as values
      …while harming those who are most at risk.
      Their proposed agenda does not praise God – it mocks God, it defiles God. And man…

      • ivanildotrindade 10:10 pm on September 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        u r entitled to your opinion,my friend, and i am entitled to let u voice it here. what this country needs is not partisanship, it is cooperation around common themes, especially the theme of helping the “least of these.” and on this score, both parties are failing.

      • Bob & Linda 6:13 pm on September 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        God is surely watching, and probably laughing especially at how we go off the deep end with some of our political opinions. And you weren’t even trying to voice one. 🙂

        • ivanildotrindade 11:50 pm on September 13, 2012 Permalink

          thanks for the comment, bob. yes, my blog is NOT political even if i muse about politics here.

    • Ted Beaver 9:40 pm on September 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      They also removed their support of Israel, but failed to put that back in, which I find troubling, but not surprising for this administration.

      • ivanildotrindade 10:01 pm on September 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        thanks, ted, for your comment. we will see if this will have any effect on the election in november.

    • Harold Stoltzfus 10:27 pm on September 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      The kingdom of darkness (this world) never understands and never gets it right.
      Thanks for this good reflection.
      Harold

      • ivanildotrindade 10:56 pm on September 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        thanks, harold, for commenting. we are living in interesting times for sure. take care.

  • ivanildotrindade 6:17 pm on September 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alessandro Zanardi, Alex Zanardi, clinton's speech, feel good story, good news, handbiking, human triumph, london paralympics, Zanardi, zanardi's crash   

    Need Some Good News? 

    This has been a rough day for me so I am in desperate need of some good news. No, I am not referring to a political speech, even one as masterful as the one delivered by Mr. Clinton, “the communicator,” last night. I need some feel good story. How about three?

    XXX

    Let’s start with Luz Milagros, the little girl who at birth was declared dead by her doctors in Argentina, only to be found alive by her parents in the hospital morgue 12 hours later. Today, she is safely home with her four brothers and sisters, to continue her recuperation. But she is in a home that is especially equipped with medical equipment to help her and 24-7 help from doctors. The little girl, who was born at six months and “dead” on arrival, does honor to her name — Luz (“light”) Milagros (“miracles”). Read the story here in Spanish.

    XXX

    Give it up to Wyatt Earber, the 8-year-old who set out to win a scavenger hunt in his community with the express purpose of helping 2-year-old Cara Kielty, who lives on his street and was diagnosed with leukemia back in May. He happened to win the $1,000.00 and donated the money to help pay for Cara’s cancer treatment. Read the story here.

    I wonder what would happen if more parents raised this kind of child? I mean, you have to credit the parents when a child so young turns out so generous. In this and age of dysfunctional families, it is always so inspiring to hear stories of those who are breaking the mold. I want to emulate little Wyatt.

    XXX

    Finally, from the world of sports: Italian ex-F-1 pilot, Alessandro Zanardi, who had a horrific crash during a race in 2001, and as a result had to have both legs amputated and went through a brutal rehab and recuperation period, just reappeared in the world of competitive sports in the last couple of days. He rose to the top again, winning a gold medal in the London Paralympics in the sport of Handbike. Read the story in Portuguese here.

    Mr. Zanardi, who also returned to car racing from 2003 to 2009, remarked that he is truly a lucky man. Thinking about the London competition ahead, he quipped, “It can’t be that bad. At least I can’t break my legs again.” My tribute to Alessandro, for his great courage and inspiration. I wouldn’t ever want to face the kind of adversity he had to face, but if I do, I hope I would have the metal to eventually be able to say, “I am a blessed man.”

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
  • ivanildotrindade 8:58 pm on September 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , compassion, , test of religion, true religion, vulnerable groups, , women   

    A Test We Cannot Fail 

    A friend of mine who works with orphans in SE Asia once told me that a pastor from a large church in major metropolitan area, after hearing his presentation, asked him point-blank, “What does working with orphans have to do with the Great Commission?” (Jesus’ command to go into all the world and make disciples).

    I’ve thought about that question many times since and I can honestly say that there is a part of me that understands why the question was asked. I mean, you could ask the same about hospital visitation, transporting young people to a retreat or giving free gas cards at the pump. I could come up with an endless list of things that on the surface appear not to be related to the imperative to make disciples of all nations. Writing this post, for example, even if I stretched it, could hardly be thought of as an activity that would result in people becoming disciples of Christ.

    But caring for orphans seems to be on a category of its own. I don’t know how anyone could miss the connection with Christ’s calling. Now, to be fair, Jesus did not say “Go into all the world and rescue orphans.” He did not say “by baptizing them, teaching them and putting them into orphan homes.” But he did say, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14). Now, someone might say, “Yes, but the children here are not purely orphans.”

    Okay, I concede: “caring for orphans is not directly related to the Great Commission,” but according to James, the Lord’s brother, it IS directly related to whether God is pleased with our religion or not. James said, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27).

    Think of it this way: when James reduced true religion to its pure essence, what I call “the irreducible minimum” of godliness, he didn’t pick a set of doctrines or the size of one’s church. He chose ACTION on behalf of two of the most vulnerable groups of people of his time – widows and orphans. He chose those with no voice, the ones considered the last and the least by the powers that be. He chose the ones no one wanted to touch. By the way, it is no different today: whenever there is poverty and oppression, women and children are ALWAYS on the frontlines of the suffering.

    So how well is God pleased with your religion? This is a test we cannot afford to fail.

    A To be sure, James also speaks of one’s personal purity. Why? I suspect because it is easy to act and even do noble things to be seen by people. The sacred text makes it clear here that this is about His business not ours. The world is littered with do-gooders who go astray. We don’t want to be added to their ranks. What we need is a heart that is transformed by God, one that allows us to see people the way God sees them. Then and only then we will act compassionately like Jesus did.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
  • ivanildotrindade 8:18 pm on September 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Citizenship in the United States, i love america, new citizens, proud new american, proud to be an american, somalians in the u.s., u.s. citizenship   

    “Proud to Be An American” 

    So after almost 19 years in this country, my youngest daughter, Carissa, who was only 6 when we moved to the U.S., became a U.S. citizen today. I saw a picture of a jubilant Carissa, flanked by her husband Paul and the judge presiding over the swearing-in ceremony today in Columbus, Ohio.

    There were some odd things and surprises during the proceedings. To begin with, the presiding judge just return from a vacation in Brazil. Then, there was the fact that according to my daughter, most of the new U.S. citizens were not able to speak English. Of 50+ people, only about six or seven could speak English fluently and the vast majority were from Somalia.

    This is surprising since the applicants have to submit themselves to a test about American history and government. I have no idea how they could have passed the test. Maybe they can read better than they can speak English.

    Another interesting thing was that all the new citizens had to watch a video in which President Obama greeted them. I don’t think he asked for them to vote Democratic, though I suspect the majority will.

    Perhaps the most moving moment of the ceremony was when a blind 70-year-old man from Somalia went upfront and when he was told by his friend that he was receiving his certificate as an American citizen, he started shouting, “I love America!”

    And the surprise of the day — instead of making the new citizens sing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” they made them sing “I am proud to be an American”!

    Finally, I was going to attend the ceremony, but in the end, because of my work, I was not able to go. I was sad but when I heard how long it took — three and a half hours from the time she went in — I was sort of glad. The celebration will have to wait.

    I am very proud of my daughter and her commitment to her adopted country. I am deeply thankful for her accomplishments in a country that was not of her birth. It is a tribute to the beauty of this country where someone can dream big and see his/her dreams come true. I am humbled by the resolve of my daughter to serve people of this great country, especially those who have no voice.

    I look forward to seeing how God is going to use her to make a huge difference in this world.

    Congratulations, Carissa!

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
    • Ted Beaver 9:37 pm on September 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Wow, CONGRATULATIONS!!

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