Sunday, May 26, 2013

Does This Make Sense, Bill?

Jennifer Knapp, Fallen

I emailed Bill Bohline (lead pastor at Hosanna) this past week, not all that hopeful that we'd reopen the dialog we'd begun last October but more so just to let him know that what concerned me then still concerns me now.

Hi Bill,

Is the time-out over? Am I allowed to speak again? A lot has happened since you stood before us on that Sunday in October and encouraged us to vote for the amendment to deny same-sex marriage...the amendment put forth by the guy who himself was divorced, making somewhat of a mockery of the entire proposal for those of us paying even the slightest attention.

My wife and I lead a small-group at Hosanna even though I've left the church after our last exchange. Tammy still regularly volunteers on Tuesday nights painting the nails of little children whose parents visit the clothes closet. I would often be there to put 'Jesus' tattoos on little arms but that no longer happens for me.

My wife and I were talking tonight about the same-sex marriage legislation that passed in Minnesota. I wondered out loud if you would speak to it this weekend and what you might say considering how you weren't shy about stating your opinion last fall. My wife wondered how it is that we can be accepted into leadership positions at Hosanna when our marriage is clearly a sham in the eyes of the church. You see, Tammy left her first husband but she didn't leave him for the right reasons. She didn't leave him because he was being unfaithful to her. What are we to do? Neither of us has any intention of changing the way we live much as homosexuals likely have no intention of changing the way they live. Should we step down from our roles as small-group leaders because we're living in sin?

We either embrace all that the Bible teaches or we just look at it as kinda-sorta good words to live by manual. Right now Hosanna is clearly picking and choosing which rules it feels comfortable cozying up to. Hosanna lacks consistency and that is what is so troubling to me. I'm reaching out to you as someone who has never been more adrift in his walk, in his faith and has never been more in need of help in sorting this all out.

Ignore me if that's what you want but know that I'm reaching out to you.


His reply...

It seems clear to me, Kevin, that your tone and attitude have not changed. So the answer to your first question is NO.

I'm certain that's not the answer Jesus would've given me.

No, I wasn't being as respectful as I could have been in the opening line of my email to him but to be honest, I have very little respect for the guy anymore. I sense such disdain for me from him but why? Because I'm asking some really difficult questions that are causing him to question the comfortable arrangement he has for his own faith and the church? If he could only for just one minute put himself in the shoes of one of those his policies are marginalizing.

I would think that I'd at least sense a drop or two of the outpouring of the love of Christ from him in this stalemate we have but I get none of that. None. Is this guy really a man of God or just a businessman posing as one? Does anyone on his staff ever question him about such things, about the hypocrisy of it all or do they fear the wrath of Bill Bohline and quietly follow along instead?

If you clicked on the song that opens this blog post you're listening to Jennifer Knapp, a woman who made a career of singing for the Lord until she came out to the world some 10 years ago and admitted that she is a lesbian. Her telling the truth about who she is led to no embracing of her by the church. The exact opposite in fact. They shunned and scorned her. There was no love of Christ for her from too many who are supposed to exemplify grace and mercy in the way they treat others.

In the song above she sings of her love for the woman in her life. It's such a beautiful song. I have to wonder if God would rather she simply deny her feelings and lie to herself so to speak?

Considering what my Christian faith teaches, am I to believe that God approves of people killing one another over some boundaries on a map (no lack of examples of this in the Old Testament) but then frowns on a same-sex couple in a loving relationship? What pieces of the puzzle am I missing that will bridge this gap?

I really want to understand this faith I've been so accepting of until now. I think what's making it especially difficult for me is the way the church has been using a magnifying glass to make some sins appear larger than others while ignoring sins that the rest of us routinely indulge in. Can we please not do that? Can we please agree that we're all sinners and that none of us is any more deserving of being able to serve the Lord in whatever capacity we desire? Please, let's stop denying people in the GLBTQ community the freedom to serve, a freedom that the rest of us take for granted despite our sinful lives.

Does this make sense, Bill?

Moving on...

Mom had a bit of a scare Wednesday night. We'd been over at her house helping her with her flower gardens and spending some time chatting. After we left she noticed some dark streaks in the vision of her right eye but she was reluctant to say anything to anyone. She woke up the next morning unable to see out of it. She called and Tammy told her to get to the emergency room without delay. Tim drove her. It turns out she had a detached and torn retina. The doctor was able to use a laser to tack it back into place and says the prognosis is for a full recovery. She goes back in one week for a follow-up.

Joe and his crew made lots of progress on our sun-porch and deck project this past week.

I was out doing dog do-do patrol in the yard a few days ago when I came across a baby snapping turtle struggling through the tall grass that was in need of cutting. I couldn't for the life of me figure where this guy may have come from but he'd been on a journey. I picked him up and cleaned off several strands of dried grass that had worked their way into the folds of his skin and were likely slowing him down. I then went about finding him a new home...

Sunday, May 19, 2013

What Was I Thinking?

I don't typically use my blog to discuss political stuff all that much anymore but I do want to make mention of some things for the archives so when I look back I can see where we were and where I was in my thinking.

Talk about overplaying a hand. Same-sex marriage in Minnesota was (until very recently) illegal but that wasn't good enough for Republicans in our state. Nearly two years ago a Republican-dominated statehouse voted to place a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the 2012 ballot. Not only did that effort fail but an unintended consequence of the constitutional amendment was that it also caused a huge amount of support for its defeat which ultimately led to a new proposal to allow for same-sex marriage; a proposal which became law this past week. It's likely that same-sex marriage was an eventuality here but because of the over-reach of Republicans in our legislature it clearly came about much faster than it otherwise would have.

Our politics of late have become as divisive as I can ever recall. It's troubling because we have so many other pressing matters that could better use our attention than where we're directing our focus. It's clear as anything to me that all we're watching play out here with respect to Benghazi and the IRS scandal is an attempt by Republicans to try and hamstring Obama during the remainder of his presidency. Again, I'm left trying to understand how I was once a supporting member of that party not all that long ago.

I think it's safe to say that Christians in America overwhelmingly side with the Republican party. Yeah, it would be nice if politics and religion didn't intertwine but they absolutely do. What confuses me most is how those who claim to follow a passive man named Jesus are the ones who are the first to want to send our kids off to war in some foreign country. They're the ones leading the charge to abolish the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and they're the ones who want an obscene amount of guns out on the street. Am I painting with too broad a brush? I don't really think so.

What about any of the above is reflective of Jesus? How do those who identify themselves as Christians justify those positions?

I took a long walk a few days ago and spent a lot of my time in thought about some of the issues I'm struggling with and how they relate to my faith. I found myself once again trying to reconcile God of the Old Testament with Jesus in the New Testament and trying to understand how they could possibly be one in the same as my faith teaches.

I can't for the life of me understand how God (in the OT) could instruct the Israelites to wipe out masses of humanity, women and children included, so that they could take over their land while Jesus is instructing us in the NT to love our enemies. There's something seriously flawed there.

I was mentioning these concerns to Tammy a couple nights ago over a glass of wine at Ernie's. She's much more willing to overlook these things I'm struggling with while totally believing that it will all make sense when we get to heaven. I don't know.

Our conversation turned to Hosanna and the church's focus on the 'sins' of gays over the sins of the rest of us. She commented that we're both divorced and living in sin according to the Bible. In Mark 10, verses 11-12 Jesus says that “Whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries someone else, she commits adultery."

Hosanna has always been very firm about their belief that because gays are living openly and in disregard to what the Bible teaches about homosexuality, they can't be assimilated into the church in any sort of position of leadership. How then does that square with Tammy and I living in sin (contrary to what the Bible teaches) while leading a small group for the past several years? There can be no difference but all I get from Hosanna is a big yawn.

Anyway, enough of that.

Work continues on our sun-porch and deck project although rain has definitely been hampering progress.

I had a couple of nice 95 mile rides this past week. Yesterday's ride took me southeast to Kenyon. I was spent when I got home but it was a good tired.

Join me...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

We Love You, Mom!

I'm sort of geeky when it comes to yardwork. I keep a journal of when I fertilize, sharpen the mower blades, change the oil in my mowers, mow the lawn, plant the flowers and when the heavy leaf raking gets done. Don't ask me why, it's just what I do. I keep my yard journal out in the garage and was looking at some of last year's entries yesterday. By this time last year, I'd already fertilized twice and had cut the lawn several times. What a difference one year can make. I finally fertilized the lawn yesterday but I've yet to mow it. I suppose a part of my apathy (in addition to the worst spring season ever) is the fact that our porch project has taken over a good section of our backyard making it difficult to get the mowers around it all. I have a hunch though that this week will see me out there on the mower.

Speaking of our porch project, Joe made some nice progress this week. I don't see much rain in the forecast so I think we can expect lots of activity out there beginning tomorrow morning.

We went out with Brenda and Marty Friday night. Our original plan was to go to JoJo's Rise & Wine Bar in Burnsville but after meeting there and standing in the front entrance looking at the menu for a couple minutes Brenda suggested we scrap those plans and go across the street to Mediterranean Cruise Cafe instead. Either place would be a new experience for Tammy and me so we were happy to go along with whatever was decided.

What a fun time we had!

We got there during prime dinner time for a Friday night but managed to get seated right away. I immediately liked the atmosphere. Did I mention they have belly dancers?

We decided on a dinner special for 4 people that gave us a wide variety of foods, mostly things I'd never heard of much less tasted. There was nothing I didn't like. The only negative I'd have to say about our time there was that the table was too small for all the food they were sending out to us. Seriously! I had to laugh at the salt and pepper shakers on the table because I couldn't imagine using either and altering at all the already so flavorful food. We'll definitely be going back. And don't worry JoJo's—we'll be out your way soon, too!

I was on a ride a few days ago and went past the dog park at Cleary Lake about 10 miles west of home. I got to thinking that I really needed to get our pups back out there. They always love the park but we didn't make it there once last year opting for Ritter Farms Park instead because it's closer. I got up early Saturday and piled them in the back of Tammy's Forester for a trip to the park. (See video embedded below.) They had so much fun. Toby and Allie will be 10 years old in August and I don't know how many more years they'll be able to romp around at the park so I'm going to do all I can to get them out there as much as possible for as long as possible. It's crazy how much I love those little guys.

We took Mom out to dinner at Ernie's Pub and Grille last night for an early Mother's Day dinner. She looked so pretty. For all the times I've mentioned Ernie's on Facebook or here, this was actually only the first time we've had dinner there. It's our hangout for a late-night glass of wine and unwinding.

We were in there a few nights ago and Greg was telling us how they were totally booked up for Mother's Day with over 530 reservations. He penciled us in for Saturday night when he could wait on us. We're always impressed when our waiter is able to take our orders and get all of the details right without using a notepad. Tammy commented on how there's no way she could ever do that. I know I couldn't.

We had a nice time with good food, wine, and conversation.

I talked to Mom tonight and she mentioned all of the family that came by to see her today and how nice it's been. She sounded very satisfied and content. For the last few years, I often wonder with each passing celebration if it will be the last time she'll be there with us and each year that unease grows just a little more.

We love you, Mom!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

More Retirements and Being Regular

We had four more controllers retire last week: John Manring, Lantz Wagner, John DeGrood, and Mark DeGrood. I mention these names and will continue to make mention of retiring controllers knowing that my blog is read by some retired controllers who will be interested in hearing about the latest to join their ranks. There will be so many more names to follow over the next few years.

Mark and I have had such similar life paths. We both went to the same jr high and high schools graduating together, we both did four-year enlistments in the Navy and we both found careers as air traffic controllers with the FAA. I suppose I shouldn't have been too surprised when he moved into a home across the street from me 16 years ago or so. He and his family still live there today. He would like to have worked a couple more years but was forced out by the age 56 mandatory retirement rule. I think we'll both be a little envious of one another as he transitions to his new phase of life. I'll be wishing I had his free time and he'll be wishing he had my paycheck. We're both in a good place.

I'm enjoying my Monday morning rides so much. I came back from last Monday's ride so pumped up having found another gear that's been missing for the longest time. After uploading my data to Strava I was surprised to learn that I've moved into 5th place overall on the segment on County Rd 46 from Cedar Ave west to the top of the hill with 18.6 miles per hour average for the 0.8-mile climb. Between my power meter and the smattering of Strava segments along my routes, I'm seeing improvements in my form as I push myself harder than I have in a long time on the road. Really fun stuff!

I'm still managing to get on my CompuTrainer regularly and hope to continue to even once the weather warms. I get such a good workout on it. I've got one ride in particular that I do where I go all out. It's only a little over 20 miles but I compete against myself by using my personal best time on the course. I can load that effort into the CompuTrainer and it will show that rider out there with me on the monitor. I rode against myself last night and lost. I held the lead for the first 15 miles but couldn't hang on in the last 5. I love how it pushes me.

I was checking in on Facebook last night from Ernie's Pub and Grille and commenting that we've become regulars there to some degree. Not that we're there that often, typically a Friday or Saturday night each week but regular enough that they know the wine we like and bring it over to our table without us placing an order. They're good people there!

Ernie's is a nice, quiet place to unwind. They have a somewhat eclectic mix of music and often we'll try and figure out who the singer or group is—lots of music from the '90s. When we don't know for sure we'll Shazam it and then read the trivia from Shazam about the song or artist. We learned something new last night about one of Rod Stewart's biggest hits. Maggie May was originally a B side to a 45. I wouldn't have guessed that considering how popular it became. The song on the A-side was Reason to Believe.

I had to laugh at Tammy while we were there. She was telling me the URL of a website and she began with "W-W-W" I said "nobody uses the w-w-w part anymore!" She went on to explain that it's something she does for the older people she deals with on the phone as part of her nurse-line job when she directs them to a link online. They get confused without it she says. It just struck me as being funny at the time.

Our sunporch and deck project got underway on Monday. There's no turning back now!