Change, One Step at a Time: On the Newtown Tragedy, Guns, and Letting Go of Our Excesses

A vigil for the Newtown school tragedy. Photo credit: 2012 Penn State/flickr.

My deep conviction has always been that the moment of tragedy is no time for advocacy or politics from either side; that as a nation we move too quickly to get past these horrific events and would benefit from marinating in our shared humanity, pausing in communal grief, and just feeling. But my mind and heart have been changed by the horror in Newtown, Connecticut. Unlike other national tragedies which I certainly feel to an extent, this one cut into me as a parent, a Christian, and an American. From my cubicle at work, I began to tremble and cry when I saw the news, and have since been moved by the firm challenge of many including our President who remind us that these tragedies are so frequent now that there remains no good time to discuss solutions. If we can’t focus our outrage at this moment, when will change ever come?

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Immigration, Equality, and Why I Gave My Vote Away

Photo credit: 2012 Joe Shlabotnik/flickr

The following is a post written by guest contributor Meg Munoz:

If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors.” -Frederick Buechner

I know, it’s been a month since the election, but truth be told: I’m usually a little late to the current events party. I like to chew on things for a while, so it took me a bit of time to figure out what I had learned from this most recent trip to the ballot box.

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The Limitations of Mockery and the Adventure of Authenticity

Tim Heidecker in ‘The Comedy.’ 

“Somehow, directness has become unbearable to us.” These chilling words are part of a valuable exposé written in the New York Times by Christy Wampole. Her piece ‘How to Live Without Irony‘ bears witness to a generational descent into routine insincerity.

Mockery on the other hand can be direct at times- a dagger shoved into one person by another- but at its core, it is not so different from insincerity. Both are often a piece of armor used for self-preservation, a way to flee human connection by focusing on the other as a caricature while exempting one’s self from the same level of scrutiny. I look around and am encouraged, because it seems even secular culture is growing weary of mockery taken to the extreme.

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Of Harry Potter and Pirates: When Asperger’s Finds Your Home

Photo credit: 2007 Solo/flickr. Use does not represent endorsement by the photographer.

The following is a post written by guest contributor Meg Vallee Munoz:

“Mom, what’s wrong with him.”

I want to say it was a morning like every other, but that would be untrue. I was emotionally exhausted and had been functioning in crisis-mode for weeks. It was the question I’d been waiting to hear, the question I’d been dreading, the question I knew could only be avoided for so long. The possibility of it being asked had been haunting me since everything started.

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The Labor of Life and the Courage of God

My wife Lauren and our son Stellan. 

Mothers and fathers often feel strongly about how they want to deliver their child into the world. Birthing plans and complications vary from one couple to the next. What follows is personal feelings about our birthing process; it is not a commentary on yours which belongs entirely to you.

This post includes a story about my wife and I on the day she gave birth to our son. I share it with her consent.

It was important to my wife Lauren that she have a natural birth. This meant going through the process with midwives and avoiding an epidural and IV medicine. The day of delivery came in late July. 18 hours later, Lauren reached 10 centimeters of dilation- or the “push phase” in laymen’s terms- without medicine, but there was almost nothing left of her energy and stamina. The marathon (between the final two centimeters in particular) had exhausted her completely, and she was losing control of the pain in a hurry. Seeing her suffer, I was starting to lose it too.

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Learning My Limits: Tiffany Lucus Says Goodbye for Awhile

Photo credit: 2010 Arol Viñolas/flickr. Use does not represent endorsement by the photographer.

If I had to tell you my biggest weakness, it would be knowing my limits.  I’m all or nothing and I don’t stop.  Growing up, “lazy” was worse than any four letter word. But the time has come for me to slow down. It is not easy but fortunately I have gracious friends who are helping me gently step away for a bit.

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When Past Hurt Threatens the Joy of Current Blessings

Photo Credit: Flickr/chicagophotogirl . Usage does not represent endorsement by the photographer.

Well, the time has come to announce that I’m 6 months pregnant.  We are expecting a little girl on January 19th of 2013.  I’ve waited to write about it.  I’ve waited to be excited about it.  My past has haunted me this entire pregnancy and it has threatened to steal every ounce of joy out of this miraculous moment. I’ll tell you why.

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[TELEGRAM] Hereditary Lust and Divine Medicine

“You know the next commandment pretty well, too: ‘Don’t go to bed with another’s spouse.’ But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices – they also corrupt.” -Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 5:27-28, The Message translation

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The Danger of Mixing Wealth With America’s “Me” Mentality

Photo credit: 401(k) 2012/flickr. Use does not represent endorsement by the photographer.

“I want everybody in America to be rich,” was the answer given by Mitt Romney during the GOP Presidential debates in 2011. This is the same line that Presidential candidate John McCain dropped on us in 2008. If you are unable to locate the geyser of cash, then you must not be using the Work Harder Treasure Map, or so we were told by Paul Ryan during his speech at last week’s GOP convention. These men are smart enough to know that wealth is not an ever-flowing fountain from which everyone can drink to their heart’s content, because in the most simplistic terms, currency, resources, and goods are finite. But this beloved tale isn’t concerned with the facts, and it’s not limited to the GOP.

America’s me-centric worldview is growing exponentially thanks to a blend of post-9/11 anxiety, economic uncertainty, the doldrums of postmodernity, and unbridled capitalism. As this continues, the mainstream mindset is starting to resemble those green alien squeeze toys in ‘Toy Story,’ caught staring upwards with a punch-drunk gaze, waiting for the arcade machine’s claw to pluck us out of the group, so that we might leave behind the mundane others as we’re whisked off to our own personal paradise. Our politics and religion become customized vehicles for legitimizing a preoccupation of the self, all at a great cost to ourselves and the community around us.

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