Saturday, October 27, 2012

Can We Talk?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently… okay, I think a lot normally… but my mind has been troubled by the growing hatred in America. I’m not sure when it started, but somewhere in the past 30 years we’ve reached a point where we are a very polarized country where we just can’t seem to talk about issues. I see symptoms everywhere: generation gaps, workplace feuds, political firepots, divorce trends, suicidal bullying, and the list goes on and on.
 
Related to the upcoming presidential election, I typically see one of two actions on social media sites: attack or avoid. Anyone and everyone who sides with the views of the opposing camp is treated like an enemy, a subverter who cannot be trusted. Or maybe we like the person but just can discuss certain issues with them so we can keep everything at a “nice” level.
 
The problem with avoiding the issues is that they never get resolved, and going into fight or flight mode distances us from others. I imagine that prior to America’s civil war, the country stopped the dialogue, retreating into safe havens where hateful words could be uttered about the northern federalist tyrants and southern slave owners. Both sides had moral reasons behind their actions and both sides failed to work out the issues even after the war was over. I am grateful that slavery was ended, and I am saddened that it ever happened in this country, but what if the country had dialogued to find solutions? White oppression continued long after the Civil War and racial tensions still exist.
 
Are we so different today? Global warming, Illegal Immigration, Healthcare, and Presidential Candidates are topics that send people into fight or flight mode almost immediately. Sadly, I hear way too many opinions and far too few facts. I hear about how the other side is lying. But if we are brave enough to take the third option (no attack, no avoidance), we dialogue about the issues, decomposing as necessary to find what we can agree upon. My concern is that we are headed toward an unhealthy confrontation. America is in need of some healthy dialogue.

copyright ©2012 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

America the Fallen


America, America, how far have you fallen?
Babylon the great has fallen indeed!
You who have led the world in idolatrous pleasures
and submitted yourselves as another’s treasure!
And conquest? No one needed to conquer you!
For you gave it away with all that you do…
to forsake your inheritance for a bowlful of stew:
the addict who desperately grasps for a fix,
completely oblivious, the eyes so transfixed
on that death-dealing high that will bring him down low!
So lower and lower and lower you go!
So sad. So true! Still you question “What’s truth?”
“It doesn’t fit my agenda… I must bury it!”
“But then I always preferred darkness to light.”
Babylon the great has fallen indeed!

copyright ©2012 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Becoming a Man

I’m convinced the world, our society, is starving for goodness. It’s not just a desire for goodness, or even a yearning for goodness. There is a legitimate need in each of us to know and be a part of what is good. It’s a hunger that is not being met, and therefore the world is starving.
 
So what does that have to do with the title “Becoming a Man”? Everything.
 
A few weeks ago, I walked up to a breakfast café for a cup of coffee. I was walking up to the door ahead of an older woman, an older woman who incidentally had delayed me in the parking lot as she took her own sweet time, gingerly adjusting her car in her chosen space. In frustration and hurry, I backed my car up and parked in a decidedly distant spot, yet here I was approaching the door before her. The thought entered my mind that I should hold the door open for her, but she had already delayed my morning coffee! I knew if I held the door open for this lady that I would then be compelled to hold it for the next person (also an older woman), and I just did not want to do it.
 
Then I heard it, that Still Quiet Voice that interrupts self-centered Mitch. I knew it was God speaking to me, saying I should hold the door, give up the spot in line that my quick step had earned me and to delay my entry that would also safeguard a timely departure so I could get a fast start to what promised to be a frenetic day. Inside I was churning, but outwardly I pleasantly obeyed my heavenly Father. I remembered my earthly father had taught me to hold the door, to show respect for elders, especially those who had grown old like both the women following me to the door. Selfishly, I had thought to let go of this value, but God had better plans for me.
 
The first lady was genuinely surprised that I held the door for her as was the second. Both commented how their deceased husbands held the door for ladies but that it was so uncommon today. If they had known my thoughts a few minutes earlier, they would have been silent, but instead they went on and on, telling everyone in line what a gentleman I was, to the point where I had to ask them to stop. But when I finally got to the cashier, the cashier was so impressed with my trivial sacrifice that I received a free cup of coffee.
 
I was humbled. It wasn’t because of anything good in me, but the goodness of Christ working through me… despite me!
 
The women went on about how my momma brought me up right. I gratefully and politely (and oh-so humbly) excused myself and found a corner table to pray while drinking my cup of caffeine. Then God spoke to me again and said the world is hungry for goodness and that being a man, a real man, means bringing goodness into the world.
 
I was fortunate to have a role model. I had a father who obviously wanted to do what was right. Like me, he didn’t always do it perfectly, but he taught me that strength was for the benefit of others. I look at my brothers, who both hold leadership positions in their chosen vocations, and I can see from their actions that my dad’s message got through to them as well. It is the man’s job to lead through sacrifice and to use his strength to protect.
 
I’ve tried to pass this message on to my sons as well as to the men that have dated my daughter. To be honest, I don’t know if we ever fully get it… if anyone can sincerely say: “I’ve become a man.” Instead, us guys are in the process of “Becoming a man”… with each step starting with age one and continuing well past the half-century mark.
 
My dad modeled “Becoming a man” for me. Yet, every man, even with imperfect role models, can look to the life of Jesus, Who led both through His sacrifice and from His strength for our salvation. Jesus did not waste his strength on His own comfort, but He set it all aside, demonstrating what a real and perfect man does: He loves perfectly.
“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.” (Romans 15:1)

The world does not know how to love. It believes that love is “give and take”. It asks the question: “Are my needs being met?” or “What am I getting out of this relationship?”. These aren’t bad questions to ask and to be sure, we need to proactively seek ways to get our legitimate needs met. But that is not love.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

The kind of love that lays down one’s life is a foreign concept to the world. The world interprets this kind of love as a sign of weakness. But sacrificial love is not weak; it is incomparably strong! And as His representatives, we are called to demonstrate this radically different kind of love in ways both big and small. The world is starving for it.
 
copyright ©2012 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)