Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Teetering

“God of mercy and compassion, you never neglect your children in need. So bless us with your healing presence that we might remain by your side on this road of sorrows. In Jesus’ holy name, Amen.”

I was in church last Sunday morning and the above prayer was recited in unison. My mind immediately leapt from where I was standing next to Tammy to the photos I'd seen earlier in the week of starving people in South Sudan -- horrific images, many of them children. It made no sense at all that we were saying this prayer with full knowledge of the suffering being endured by some. (And now the Trump* administration is intent on slashing funding to these desperate people so we can grow our already obscenely large military even larger. Trump* supporters -- is this what you voted for?)

I can't tell you anything about the rest of Sunday morning's service because I never got beyond the line about God never neglecting his children in need. As we walked out to our car I considered asking Tammy what she thought of it but I didn't. Her faith lately has been teetering on the brink and I didn't want to say anything to push her over the edge. I still have my faith in a higher power but I'm no longer certain that it's at all related to what is described in the Bible. I don't like thinking this way because life was simpler before I began questioning and doubting but it's where I am and I can't pretend otherwise.

I know the world doesn't revolve around the U.S. but there's no denying that we have a disproportionate amount of influence on the rest of the world, or at least we seem to from my view. Christians now have their man in the most influential position in this world of ours as evidenced by the fact that evangelicals loudly and proudly supported Trump* by a margin of 4 to 1. How can any thinking person who has been paying attention to what's been happening, and seeing who's been supporting this clown not also begin to question the faith they've been practicing -- a faith that is dependent on man to deliver the message in an honest way without bias. I no longer believe that that's what we have or have ever had.

Tammy and I have both sent off our DNA samples to 23andMe to have them analyzed. We also filled out the online questionnaire that takes about 90 minutes to complete. The questionnaire delves into personal traits as well as personal health condition and maladies, I suppose to see if there are risk factors that can be identified.

In my last blog entry I posted a video of a ride I'd done earlier in the week. One of the clips in the video (isolated below) was of a large flatbed truck that brushed me back on County Rd 5 in Burnsville. A friend saw the video and encouraged me to file a police report on the driver. I was going to chalk it up to the driver being a dick for whatever reason and not invest any amount of time thinking about it but Steve was right -- I needed to report the incident. What if the driver routinely does this sort of thing with his rig when he sees cyclists he doesn't approve of? There was less than 6 inches of space between his rig and my left hand on the top of my brake hood. That's one skilled driver to know the limits of his truck, and if he's not that skilled then he could've just as easily taken me out.

I understand that most will see the video and wonder why I'm out there when I could more safely be on the sidewalk to the right. I get that. Until you're out there riding the sort of distances I ride I don't expect you to understand. Sidewalks and bike paths are all good if you're out for a leisurely ride where maneuvering around vehicles straddling the path are nothing more than a little nuisance. I ride with an incredibly bright blinking LED light on the rear of my bike that can be seen from more than 3 miles away and I have a similar light facing the front. In the video below you'll see that the truck driver had full use of the left lane but chose to send me a message instead. He's now going to get a return response from me.

I received this follow-up reply from Burnsville police.

"Thanks. I tried several possible phone numbers for the vehicle's registered owner without success, so I mailed him a letter. The body of the letter is as follows:

I just received a call from a concerned citizen about an incident on Monday, March 27 at about 3:00 p.m. The caller was riding a bicycle on southbound County Road 5 near 136th Street in Burnsville, which is an area with two southbound traffic lanes. He was on the far right edge of the roadway, essentially on the solid white line. A semi-truck with a flatbed trailer passed the bicyclist and nearly hit him. The left lane was open, so the truck driver had ample room to change lanes or at least give the bicyclist the three feet of space required by law.

The bicyclist was wearing a “Go Pro” style camera and recorded the incident on video. The video also captured the license plate on the trailer, which registers to you. The bicyclist does not want me to take any enforcement action regarding this incident, but he did ask me to contact the truck driver.

Of course, I have no way of knowing if the driving conduct was accidental (i.e. the driver did not notice the bicyclist) or intentionally aggressive. The bicyclist’s impression was that the driving conduct was intentional. If you were the driver, please take care in the future to notice bicyclists and drive safely; bicyclists are entitled to be on the road, and Minnesota law requires that a driver passing a bicyclist give at least three feet of space.

If you were not the driver, please forward this letter to whoever was driving the truck at that time. I do not need any follow-up contact from you. The bicyclist does not have your name or other information because I found it through the vehicle registration records, which are confidential.

(Photo attached)"

I want to be sure that a report of the incident is going to be placed in the file of the driver of the flatbed so I've sent an amended request off to the officer I was in contact with. I'm awaiting his reply.

7 comments:

David Bryan Gilmore said...

Thanksgiving last year Sue and I started attending the local "Friends" church here in Sherwood.
Friends known by another name, Quakers.
This area of the country is populated by many Quakers and there is a long and convoluted history of that faction of the Christian faith.
George Fox University was founded by a Quaker.
Sue and I attended and eight week class to learn about this denomination and appreciate the wealth of history that founded it.
And so both she and I have applied for membership. I say applied because we tell a bit about our walk with Christ and describe our Spiritual Gifts where we can be of service to others. And most know about the Quaker's objection in serving in the military but few know that many Quakers did serve in a medical or corpsman position to save those injured by war in the battle field.
I'm writing this down for all to read in reply to your first paragraphs about your mixed feelings about that "Christian" paradox we find ourselves in these days.
And the older I get I find that while all churches are far from perfect in their take on leading a Christ like life or lifestyle they for the most part try to do just that.
But it's the deviation from the original teachings of Jesus as described in the New Testament that screws things up I think. Keeping in mind that those books were scribed decades after Christ died. Hence something was more than likely forgotten or embellished in what eventually became the Bible written in English that we use as our guide.
And I think most of us put our own "spin" on what best fits our desires to be more like Jesus in our own lives.
And so my one page history of "My walk with Jesus" is far from what many would consider that picture perfect "Christian" man or person.
And while I don't feel compelled to join a church to be part of an official member, I do find it interesting how the Quakers in general do not judge. They are quite passive in nature and don't even vote within the church process of deciding things that effect the congregation at large. This is all done by a group of deacons and they are led by a "weighty man" process.
So I've become more or less a passive Christian, not subscribing to any denomination in particular but I think at this point I have found a place where I can worship in my own way with some folks in my age demographic and those that work within our small community for the betterment of all.
This past Sunday, a sixteen year old girl did a presentation on her mission trip to Rwanda with other youth of the YCEW program. While I doubt that she will be saving lives in her efforts, it does provide that channel to keep those of us here in a safe place aware of what the needs are in a war torn place on the planet.
Rwanda is also another country that GSM serves.

John Hill said...

It can be difficult to understand a loving and merciful God in the midst of great trial and suffering. I can be nearly impossible to explain a loving and merciful God to someone in the throes of such situations.
I think it is vital to our faith that we come to an understanding of our perceptions of God when we are in a more neutral stage of life.
If our decisions about God come when we are joyful and celebrating, we may feel abandoned when trials come. If we make decisions about God when we are suffering or in turmoil, we may conclude that there is no god.

I rely on my beliefs about God through all things.
I know that His concerns are more about my eternal well being than about this brief walk on earth. I hope that Tammy can find the place where God is more than the god of this earthly status and have a faith that gives her a more eternal peace.

Blessings to you both, my friend.

Kevin Gilmore said...

Bryan and John -- thanks for your comments.

These past few years have been a struggle for both Tammy and me with respect to our faith walk. I still spend a fair amount of time in prayer each day and I don't expect that to change but what has changed are the tenants of my faith that I'd always held as something not to be messed with. I no longer believe in the Trinity because it simply makes no sense to me when I sit and seriously ponder it -- at least it doesn't make sense from my puny perspective here on earth. And I now no longer believe that just because someone doesn't accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior that they're damned to hell. I'm not sure what the turning point was for me but it's where I'm at in my journey. These aren't beliefs I feel so strongly about that I feel I need to get others to embrace them with me. They're just my beliefs and I'm at peace with them.

I get a little bothered when I hear prayers such as the one recited in our church last Sunday. I want to pray with intention and purpose -- I don't just want to mouth a collection of meaningless words and that's what I felt I was being asked to do. I don't blame our pastor for this necessarily. I googled the words we prayed when I got home and versions of that particular prayer showed up on several ELCA websites. I don't want to appear to be picking nits. I'd have preferred if the prayer acknowledged that 'yes, God, you sometimes choose to allow suffering and we don't know why -- we ask for understanding' -- anything but something that obviously isn't so.

Beth said...

My sister and I were both raised in a Quaker Meeting and both still hold memberships in our home meeting. We've also had many discussions about religion and faith and church. We have come to our realization that our faith hasn't changed. We still believe in God and are content in that. However, we are both tired of religion and church. It seems to us that doctrine of a denomination means more than biblical teaching. At the same time, we also know that any denomination can and do take a single verse or passage from the Bible and use it for their own purposes, without considering the context.

We are like you, we can't understand how someone can profess to be a Christian and yet live a life, or have beliefs that are so far removed from Christ's teachings. As Quakers we are taught to "center" ourselves and wait on God's leading. This takes some doing when someone else is talking, but I've found I can pray my own prayers while someone else is praying.

My mother once asked me how my heart felt after I had made a decision on faith and when I told her that I immediately felt at peace she told me that it was a right decision.

Blessings!

Kevin Gilmore said...

Thanks, Beth.

One of the prayers I've been praying for several years now has been to ask God to help me see the world through his eyes and to help me to be a more compassionate person. I think those are two very worthy desires. I honestly feel that God has been opening my eyes to so much around me that I failed to notice previously. I'm disheartened when I see the refugee crisis or the famine crisis and the response to those desperate people seems to be little more than a yawn from conservative Christians. Where's the pro-life in that? Where is their compassion?

If there was a Quaker meeting near us I'd be curious to check it out. Tammy is happy with the many connections she's making at the church we're attending now and that's important to me so I think we'll stay put. As far as organized religion is concerned though it no longer holds the importance for me that it once did.

John Hill said...

I don't believe that my own perceptions of the Trinity square well with most Christian beliefs. That is a part of finite minds trying to understand an infinite God. Too often we tend to ascribe human characteristics to a spiritual being and it just doesn't work well.

May you and Tammy find blessings and peace on your journey.

Kevin Gilmore said...

Very true, John. Thanks for your words.