Posts Tagged ‘United States’

Does anyone remember an old game show called “To Tell the Truth” in which contestants would ask questions to try to discern who was a certain celebrity among several impostors? My experiences with church have been that way, and I still find myself looking for a real and true one with humble honest leaders.

I have always loved Jesus since I was a child, but for me institutionalized religion has proven mostly boring and disillusioning. For many years of my life, I have worn the church around my neck like an oversized hunk of costume jewelry, while my non-Christian friends have been politely unimpressed, because they could see that it’s not real.

A precious gem like Jesus deserves better than an old tarnished setting. I want people I know to be drawn into His beauty and majesty, but within the context of my broken life and my church, people have not taken enough notice of Him. I love Christ and His teachings, and I am tired of all the unnecessary trappings.

I have been out of the church scene for a long time now because I am weary of the stained-glass aquariums and the theatrics and the building funds and the blessing of billboards instead of people, and those trite church sayings by every roadside. I don’t believe Christ would subscribe to any of this nonsense that is being done in His name.

Is this really as good as it gets for Christian believers in America? If so, I suppose I will be a lonely follower of Jesus for a long time.

Please pray for me to find a church where I can go without getting angry.


Sister Olive


Cover of "Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Th...


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Black Elk SpeaksI love this description by Black Elk of his vision in which he saw the son of Wanekia, the Great Spirit:

“They led me to the center of the circle where once more I saw the holy tree all full of leaves and blooming.

…Against the tree there was a man with arms held wide in front of him.  I looked hard at him, and I could not tell what people he came from.  He was not a Wasichu (white man) and he was not an Indian.  His hair was long and hanging loose, and on the left side of his head he wore an eagle feather.  His body was strong and good to see, and it was painted red…while I was staring hard at him, his body began to change and became very beautiful with all colors of light…He spoke like singing:  “My life is such that all earthly beings and growing things belong to me.  Your father, the Great Spirit, has said this.  You too must say this.” 


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“Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.” 

English: Independence Day fireworks, San Diego.Today is Independence Day in America, and while we are enjoying fireworks today in this country, many people abroad are taking shelter from our scary fireworks going off in their neighborhoods. And our young soldiers are making firecrackers in other countries and wishing they could come home and enjoy their families.

I understand that there are countries and people intent on destroying our way of life.  But it seems to me that we don’t need their help because we are self-destructing.  The young man who slew so many students at Columbine High School was asked in a class to write a paper about his best friend. So he wrote that his best friend was a gun.

My best friend was never a gun, because I have always had fleshy friends. I have never even admired a gun.  Passing through Wal-Mart, I’ve never paused to look at a pistol or a rifle and thought “that could come in handy” or “wouldn’t that look pretty sitting on top of my dresser?”  And I am about as neurotic as they come, but I’ve survived without a loaded companion quite well so far.

Last month, a teenage fellow that always served my coffee at McDonald’s was shot dead.  He had beautiful spiked bleached blonde hair and a rosy face and bright smile.  Why did he have to die?  Because someone collected guns for his friends to play war games with, and one of them was fired straight into his heart.

I love my freedoms because I can say the things I want to say and do the things I want to do.  But I am honest enough to recognize that even though we don’t have evil dictators, I live in one of the most violent nations in the world with the most heavily armed civilian population. This country was founded on hostility. I find it hypocritical that while we exalt the glories of freedom, we are so eager to destroy anyone who disagrees with our point of view. We have fought the British, slaughtered the Native Americans, captured and sold slaves from Africa, and fought our own brothers in the Civil War.  Sometimes I think we will never stop fighting.

Everywhere you go, hostility is staring you down.  From the cashier in the grocery store to the car honking and driving you off the road and even in our own families, people don’t seem very gentle and kind.  I have made plenty of stupid mistakes, but I have never intentionally hurt any human or creature (except for a few insects). Hostility makes me feel lousy.

Well, isn’t it the same everywhere you go?  No, it isn’t.  I just came back from Spain, and it’s not the same way there.  You may not believe this, but I don’t recall one unkind or rude word (in English, Spanish, or body language) from anyone during the three weeks I was there.  The people I met were gentle and gracious.

People laugh about America’s love of guns in Spain, and no one wants to have a weapon. They would rather have a loaf of bread, a glass of wine, and thou. They think it’s silly to own a gun, so it’s completely a non-issue.  The government doesn’t need to rule on it, because nobody cares. My father says this is the European view on such things.

So why do Americans care so much about weapons? Did we play too many games of “Cowboys ‘n Indians” as a kid, or watch too many episodes of “Have Gun Will Travel“?

I am especially frustrated with Christians who forget that Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers” and “Blessed are the meek.” There is no double-meaning in those sayings. Christ was always non-violent.  Gandhi understood it better than most Christians I know.

When will we ever learn?  Heaven is not draped with the American flag, and Jesus loves our enemies too.


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(Intro to EvangeLegends: A Series of Missionary Mementos)

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”  Matthew 13:45-46

If a famous millionaire stood on a street corner and started throwing handfuls of dollars around, can you imagine the stir it would create?  The press would be there and headlines would cover the story and people would forget everyone around them in their desperation to grab as much cash as they could.  There would be viral videos of people trampling one another to get some money.

But very few people have the vision to press through the crowd to lay hold of Jesus, the priceless treasure. Here in America, when a preacher or missionary tells the story of Christ who offered Peter the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, people laugh and mock and walk away.  The atheists create billboards about our sadistic God and useless Savior.

Yet missionaries willingly leave the comfort and safety of the American dream to carry the gospel to other nations.  Imagine what it would feel like to tell someone about Jesus for the very first time, someone who had never even heard of Him before.  At moments like these, the scriptures say that angels celebrate.  I sometimes imagine them leaning in to hear every word. The value of Christ is so immense that it captivates the interest of even the supernatural world.

Not only is it amazing to hear about the mystical experiences on the mission field, but also to learn of new people who have clear vision and voices, who sense His glory with fresh tender hearts.  They seem to see Jesus more purely than those of us who have sleep in our eyes.

Missionary stories have always moved me, because they light a flame of hope inside of me.  As a young student at a Christian college years ago, I hung on every word when a missionary came to chapel services or when any speaker told a story of someone on the mission field; I’ve never been able to forget the stories, even when I forgot the names or places.

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