2017 version of Community Bathrooms

community bath 1 (2).jpgIn 1982, I made a conscious decision to move away from a dorm with semi-private bathrooms to a dorm with community bathrooms on each floor.

And I never looked back.  Ok; the bathroom set up wasn’t the reason I chose the other dorm (It helped they had installed air-conditioning over the summer).

Community was different in dorms with community baths.  Not in a creepy way, but in a way that comes sui generis from sharing tiolet, shower, shaving, washing space with a larger number of people.

We had challenges from time to time. I don’t actually remember having my stuff stolen while I was in the shower, but it may have happened. I also don’t remember stealing anyone else’s stuff while they showered. That may have happened, too.

But what I do remember happening was the shared vulnerability of such common spaces had the effect of each of us treating one another with at least a modicum of respect.

So, as a few of us chatted over coffee this morning, and remembered the days of community-bathroomed dorms, someone said, “I bet they don’t have those any more.”

Oh, but we do.

I don’t know if colleges do, but I contend that social media is the community bathroom of 2017. Except that, not realizing it, many of us have not yet learned to treat others with the modicum of respect deserved when an eclectic and random (you might have chosen your roommate, but you didn’t chose who got to live on the floor)

It took us some time to adapt to sharing the space of the community bathroom.

But not as long as you’ve been on social media!

Does God agree with you? with me?

20160617_144150In the face of all the many disagreements, and further, in the face of what seems to be a lack of ability to communicate in civil and well-intentioned ways, I thought this morning of these words from Isaiah 55:8-9
My plans aren’t your plans,
    nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways,
    and my plans than your plans. (CEB)
Do you suppose that when God says, in Isaiah 55, that God’s thoughts and ways are not ours, God is referring to everyone? I have to admit that my usual first read of that passage is that God is referring to my enemy/opponent/anyone who disagrees with me.
To be fair, though, I have to admit, though it sometimes takes me a while, that God is, in fact, saying this to ALL of us.
(FULL DISCLOSURE: I do not have a second thought on my agenda for which this is the setup. Not that I never operate that way, but I am not this time)

Does the Bible really say that?

Listened to an interesting piece this morning on NPR. It was about a new book (A More Perfect Heaven) about Copernicus and the publication of his On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres. Apparently he waited several years to publish this work because of the controversy it raised in claiming that the earth was not the center of the universe.

The reporter said that people at the time all knew the sun, stars, and planets revolved around the earth. Here is the part that got my attention, “and the Bible said so,” she reported.

I never knew the Bible said that the sun, stars, and planets all revolved around the earth.  Did you?

We do not read the Bible this way because we live more than 500 years later.  The earth revolving around the sun is not a controversy for us, so we do not read the Bible as though it claims the sun revolves around the earth.

At Austin Avenue United Methodist Church’s Fall Festival, a couple of college seniors asked about this Fallout Shelter sign. Not only did they not know what it meant for the church building to be a fallout shelter, they had no concept of what a fallout shelter was.

As much as this surprised everyone over 30, there is something happy about younger people not having to know what a fallout shelter was (is).  It is not part of their world, so they don’t need to know.

Much like the way we read the Bible, we read “signs of the times” depending on the culture we grow up in. Some things about the way others read, or the knowledge or background others bring to interpret signs astound us.

I cannot help but wonder what kinds of things you and I take for granted will be looked back on 20, 40, 100 years from now with this same perspective.

….Makes You Wonder

In case you haven’t been keeping up, Texas State Troopers and DFPS raided a compound in Eldorado earlier this month upon the threat of child sexual abuse.  The Compound, known by those who live there as the YFZ or Yearning for Zion Ranch, belongs to a group identifying themselves as Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS.

The FLDS is a group known mostly for polygamy. Our local paper, the Waco Tribune-Herald, carried an article last week about polygamy, and how common it is.  Most polygamists fly well under the radar, don’t group themselves into compounds, and according to the article, lead relatively “normal” lives.

Rather than discussing what a “normal” life looks like, I’d like to take this a different direction.  What if some people are predisposed toward polygamy?

Do laws against polygamy unfairly burden people who may have been “born that way?”

If polygamy were legalized, and thus regulated, would the state have a better method of limiting abuse in such families?

Only half my tongue is my my cheek as I ask these questions.

I am The Man

I’m not bragging; it is a bitter pill to swallow.  I am, nevertheless, The Man.

Mid 40’s, white, college educated, American male-that’s exactly who I am.

This is a discomforting realization for a guy who always saw himself as counter-culture, anti-establishment.

How can it be that “Fight the Power” and “Stick it to the Man!” are some of my favorite things to say?

No; Really?

Check this out:  CBS reports that  “All their lives, the girls in the polygamist sect in the West Texas desert were told that the outside world was hostile and immoral….” (emphasis added)

Have we, the “outside world,” proven them wrong?  Is this a self-fulfilling prophecy?  I don’t think they’ve been treated with hostility as compared to, say, the Branch Davidians, but don’t you imagine that from the perspective of the insider, the past couple of weeks could be reasonably construed as “hostile”?

As to immoral, I have to admit, well, yeah, we’ve got a good bit of that going on out here in the rest of the world.  But if someone who is trying to legitimate marrying of 15 year old girls to 50 year old men is the one complaining about Desperate Housewives, I think the pot is commenting on the kettle….

Wish I Could Disagree

This was in a letter to the editor in yesterday’s Waco Tribune-Herald by Shelby Lynn Muhl:I’m acquainted with many self-described Christians, including a number of fatuous “born-agains.” Only one actually tries to follow the instructions of Jesus and avoids judging others.

I have to think the ratio is higher than Ms. Muhl alleges, I have to admit she has a point. She goes on to point out that “The rest are deeply addicted to Mammon. One couple I know actually prays for money and entreats friends to second the motion. They also openly mock the poor.”

She’s right! Oh, sure, she paints with a very broad brush, but do we as followers of Jesus have any reply but to admit that her allegations are all too true – that we who claim the name of Jesus have a long, deep history of not representing him very well?

What can we do to change the perception?

  1. Those of us who are appalled at this representation of Christians have to come clean. We must refuse to hide our claims to Jesus to avoid being lumping in with “all those hypocrites.:
  2. We can invite those who are fond of pointing out the hypocrisy of Christians to watch us, come along side us, and look with us at how Jesus calls us to live.
  3. We can ask the Holy Spirit for the strength and courage to live like Jesus.

What else can we do?


Rachel gave me, and 6 or 7 other people, Chico Bags for Christmas.  Here’s what the tag on the bag says:

ChicoBags can save the average American 300 to 700 plastic shopping bags per year, which will save 3 to 7 gallons of crude oil.  A population of 100,000 people can save up to 14,000 barrels of oil per year using reusable bags.

You don’t have to use Chico Bags.  More and more places sell their own similar bags.   How about joining us for 2008 by usign as few plastic shopping bags as possible.