Saturday, December 19, 2009

Writing in the Snow: An Irreverent Perspective on Our Cultural Ideas About Inclusion

Warning: This blog entry involves imagery that some might find offensive, while others might find quite natural.

Once upon a time there was a small town in which all the children, except one, were boys. The one lone little girl, Sally, was cherished by all, even though she was "different". At first she didn't notice the difference because, well, small children don't naturally notice those things. The other kids didn't notice either, and all was good in the world. Her parents knew that she would come to understand that difference, as would all the boys, but that if they made sure there was always a way for her to participate in the town, then she would not see that difference as something to be ashamed of. The world was full of girls and everyone knows how important they are! In fact, when she was all grown up, she would be one of the most valuable "possessions" that the town had!

So time went along and all were happy in Boyville. But as she and her friends grew, she began to notice things.

For the most part, her friends were faster and than her. True, she was faster and stronger than some of the other children, but she never placed first in a test of strength or speed. But, that was okay, because she also noticed that there were things she could do better them them -- she could sit still and pay attention longer, and was able to add her own perspective on things to conversations. She was always able to keep up, and her smaller size made her an attribute in some games (like hide-and-seek). She was different, but no one saw that as a problem. The lone girl in a town full of boys, comfortable with who she was.

One winter day, though, her friends all discovered something that they could do that she couldn't. They could write their names in the snow. Now, really, Sally thought that this was juvenile and didn't really care that she was missing out on this "fun". There were hundreds of other ways a kid could have fun! So, she contentedly found another activity to fill her afternoon, never a thought about it.

The next afternoon, the boys were all done being enamored with their unique ability to write in the snow, and so the kids all went back to playing dodge ball, snowball fights, video games and board games. Occasionally they would write in the snow, and when they did, Sally just found something else to do.

But, then, one day she heard the oddest thing. Her town was going to have an afternoon play date and the focus of that play date was -- writing in the snow.

Sally held back the tears as she read the flier on the town square:


What?! The one thing I can't do? Why in the world would they pick that? She thought. There are so many fun things to do... why would they pick that one thing? And why would they make it the only thing at this party?

Up till now, there are had been moments where it felt awkward to be different, but this, the feeling of being left out, this was completely new. Her Mom and Dad understood, and tried to advocate for her, but no one was willing to really listen. They thought that inclusion meant that she was simply welcome to be there, not that she was to be included as a valuable and equal part of a celebration.

Her parents sought counsel with the Mayor. The Mayor was a nice man, but he just didn't get it, because, well he could write in the snow, too, and had done so all his life.

"We'll get her an aide." He told them. "She can have some one with her and when they write in the snow then the aide can do it for her. She can kind of wiggle her hips so it feels like she's participating."

"Well," her father replied, "Sally doesn't want to pretend she's participating. She wants to participate. And she definitely doesn't want some adult following her around all afternoon. I mean, would you have wanted that when you were 10? Something like that will only make her feel like she's standing out even more!"

"Well," the Mayor responded, "It just doesn't make sense that you wouldn't want the town to have fun...." and the case was closed.

He didn't understand that the parents weren't saying not to have the town party or that the town party couldn't contain some form of writing in the snow, but that by making that the focus it was excluding Sally, and any other little girl that happened into town. Or maybe the boys who were uncomfortable with writing in the snow, or whose parents didn't have the money to purchase them snowsuits to keep them warm while writing in the snow, that those boys would be left out as well..... with a world full of options, why is there a need to focus on this one thing?

For the weeks leading up to the event, all the kids in town talked about it. Sally was silent. Her parents were silent. There was nothing for them to do, but every time a smiling boy came by and mentioned it, or a teacher at school asked if they would go, just one more tiny little part of their hearts would break.

Not because writing in the snow was really all that fun, but a certain realization would sink in even more each time they heard about it. People were willing to include Sally, as long as it cost them nothing in exchange for doing so.

They also felt sad, too, that people would never understand that the joy of having Sally, or any other little girl, included in what they were doing, far outweighed the fleeting fun of an afternoon of writing in the snow.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Letter from Jesus about Christmas

This was forwarded to me by a new friend of mine, Santa Bill, who is a kind gentlemen that happens also to beSanta Claus for some beautiful Ukrainian orphans in norther western Ukraine. It was a role he took on because he loves Jesus.

I don't generally post forwarded things on my blog, but I absolutely love the perspective of this:

Letter from Jesus about Christmas~

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season.

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up..... It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5 Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.

7. Instead of nit-picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday.. If the store didn't make so much money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families.

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary-- especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.

9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then BEHAVE like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest.

Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love -- and remember:


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas, A Long Time Ago: Twas the Night Before Christmas Part II

I remember a long time ago, when Christmas was a peaceful time of year. However, it just seems that with each year, there are a group of my fellow believers who just want to make even Christmas Season a time of war with our culture. And while there many things I love to take issue with our culture, I just don't get this Christmas thing.

You take a sacred holiday which was originally celebrated by Christians (after being converted from being a pagan holiday) and was designed to celebrate the fact that God himself made him vulnerable enough to become a human being. Then somewhere along the way, St. Nick made his way in, as did other traditions.

Then Santa joined in, and within about 50, maybe 75 years, you have a holiday called "Christmas" but that really, in functional terms, has nothing to do with Christ and everything to do with stimulating the economy.

In my decision to NOT be depressed by the excessive materialism and arguments that just seem to erupt from this season, I have searched my inner poet (OH NO, NOT THAT!) and written yet and other cuplet. I channeled my inner Dr. Seuss.

It's cheesy and smarmy, but it's also in reaction to the hundreds of forwarded emails I keep getting about "Twas the night before Christmas.... yada yada yada... people don't care about keeping it Christmas, they just want to take Christ out of it."

Well, in my opinion, I don't really want them putting such a beautiful name into such a sickly excuse of a holiday. If the stores are needed for Christmas, I don't want anything to do with it. They can keep their holiday season and I can keep mine!

All I can think each time I hear the alarm sounded, is a little meek voice inside my head that says, "Didn't Christ love them enough to give them a choice?"


Twas the Night Before Christmas and all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, except for a mouse

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of Christmas day danced in their heads.

They were thinking about what they had bought for each other

Each brother and sister, friend, father and mother

Dreaming about playing with cousins and Aunts

and Uncles and parents and sweet yummy snacks

Dreaming about cookies, family made feasts, gifts from those who love them

And celebrations so neat.

They didn’t have wish lists that went out the door

They didn’t have appetites that just wanted more.

Christmas had been shown them as a love celebration

Of the love of God, who sent his son for salvation

It wasn’t about presents, or a man who brought toys

It wasn’t about buying more games or stuff that makes noise

It wasn’t about manipulation or culture war battles

It wasn’t about catch phrases or false holiday values

It wasn’t about pining for the days way gone by

It wasn’t about yelling for the world to comply

It was about the passing of love and submitting of power

First by God , and then Christ in his first and last hours

The Word became flesh, God lowered himself

To become one of us and give of himself

God does this but once, and it just seems to be

Something to celebrate, and think of as holy

So, to turn it into a material mess,

where we yell and we fuss, as the stores have digressed

Is simply a miserable, angry response

That, really, we shouldn't want to focus there even once

When what we should do is give them the less

Let them have their shallow materialistic fest

Then, we could be like my sweet children each year

And we'd have "won" for he'd be remembered with cheer.

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house

Not a Christian was praying – they were all tuckered out

From buying and charging and hording galore

But, only from AFA approved stores

Not wanting to offend Wildmon or Dobson

they undertook causes by hundreds and thousands

But not about Gap who has nothing to say

Of Child labor, sweathouses and low wages they pay.

Taking kids from their families, and pumping with drugs

Making cute little coats, hoodies or gloves.

“Ooops” they say, “We just didn’t know.

Obviously our employees were hiding it so.”

1 time, maybe 2, but now 3, 4?

No ‘tis obvious to all there must be something more.

Turning the cheek, in this world, as they say

no longer means forgiveness but, look the other way,

But Christians, that’s not the cause that they fight,

but instead protest a rather small slight.

For avoiding the word “Christmas” GAP was banished by men,

But now that they say it, we can shop there again,

Little Madhur will work while suffering the flu,

And depression, and starvation and homesickness too,

But we know for sure, that when under our tree,

Gap gifts will be honoring to Jesus, you see

For they were purchased from a store that made sure to say

“Merry Christmas” with their “Happy Holidays”.