Monday, October 15, 2007

When is it Hate? II

Previously, I discussed the incident at George Washington University. Turns out that the president of George Washington University has decided to do nothing about the racial incident because it was a liberal group that posted the "hate" messages. I guess that proves my point. It is only considered "hate" when it comes from certain people. It has little do with it's effects or damage caused. It has to do with marking certain individual's as undesirable or worthy of "hate." This is called discrimination.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Martyrdom in the Church of Christ

According to the Voice of the Martyrs organization—a group dedicated to helping the persecuted church and keeping the Christian community at large informed—two pastors were executed on July 5th in a Colombia village of El Dorado. They were killed by a group of guerrillas (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) for preaching about Jesus. It is considered "illegal" to do this in this area.

One of the brothers worked with the Presbyterian Church (Humberto Mendez Montoya), and was a missionary there for about three years. The other was a brother from the Church of Christ (Joel Cruz Garcia) who was working to start a church there.

Apparently, more than 300 pastors over the past five years have been martyred and many others were kidnapped. Let's keep the pastor's families in prayer, for these problems have largely been kept silent. According to an interview in the Colombian newspaper HOY, "These homicides of Christians…unfortunately have fallen on deaf ears."

The wives of the two brothers are currently in jeopardy. Please pray for them especially.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

When is it Hate?

Recently in the Washington D.C. area there was a supposed "hate" crime. There were posters plastered all over campus extolling the virtues of hating Muslims. This act was reported as a "hate" crime, and university officals where intent on finding the culprits. The group that was identified on the posters was a conservative group, and many thought they were really responsible. They were prepared to prosecute them to the full extent of the law.

Well, it turns out that the whole thing was a hoax perpetrated by left-leaning group of young people, looking to smear the conservative organization. It is being looked at as a prank. These young people may be reprimanded. However, the smeared conservative group asked that these people be at least expelled from the campus community.

This brings up a troubling development. Why is this now considered simply a prank? The act was considered a hate crime prior to knowing who did it. Is this proof that hate crime legislation is indeed unfairly applied? It seems that "hate" is subjectively applied to selective groups of people who criticize other selective groups of people.

In other words, when is a crime worse than the crime itself? Is murdering a single mother worse, if the mother is black and the killer is white? Is it worse when the mother is a homosexual and the killer is a heterosexual? Is it not as bad when the victim and perpetrator are both of the same race? What makes the crime "hate" when all crime is hate of some sort?

I know the reasoning. A hate crime is a crime that not only harms the victim, but also victimizes a whole group of people. But how do we determine this—other than having the perpetrator tell you that was his or her intent? If we judge simply by the results it produces, how do we know when the results are intended? "Hey, we thought we were simply bringing awareness of hate. We didn't intend to cause the Muslim community to feel victimized. Oops. Sorry."

Monday, October 08, 2007

Losing to Win II

There is a prime time TV show I enjoy watching. It is NBC's The Biggest Loser. As I have written before, it is for a similar reason I liked Shaq's Big Challenge. It reveals the very real difficulties involved in the war against overweight lifestyles.

Several people are selected to be part of the show's boot camp, and they compete on who loses the most pounds by the end of the season. Personal trainers help these people learn how to eat, when to eat, how to exercise, and push these people to train beyond what they would be accustomed to.

What is fascinating is that some of the contestants are resistant to change, whether it is the exercise regime or eating differently. But the trainers use a mix of encouragement, challenge, education, hard truth, parable, and even outright anger to motivate these people to go beyond what they are comfortable doing. They are each given the sobering reality that what they were doing was killing them. And if they continue to live like that they will surely die. So, even though this hurts, and it is uncomfortable, they must keep their eyes on the goal—losing weight for a healthier, and more meaningful life.

Isn't this what Jesus offers? Not losing weight necessarily, but a transformed life for God's purposes. He himself serves as our example of perseverance (For the joy set before him he endured the cross), of setting ourselves apart (he died and is raised to live a new life), and of faithfulness. Yet, Jesus is the cause of our transformed life. For through is offered body, and the Spirit he sends, he also provides a way for us to be transformed.

But like in the Biggest Loser, it isn't going to be easy. We need encouragement from each other. We need people who can help us understand what we don't know. We need people to have the courage to tell us the truth, out of gentleness and love, and to put up with our whining. We need people around us who care about our transformation more than us liking them. We need people around us who are wise enough to know when to push and when not to push. We need people around us who want it for themselves.

But, again, this isn't easy.