On freedom, guns, and cameras

My question for any who may read this is pretty simple: do you feel more free when you are in the presence of people with guns or people with cameras? I’m seriously interested in reading your answer below and perhaps some comments as to why.

I’ll go first.

I feel more free when surrounded by cameras than guns. I feel more trapped and threatened with guns around. And here’s why.

After studying my Bible each morning, I typically switch to reading the news from a few different sources. This morning I read about the NRA convention this weekend in Nashville. And nearby an article about another shooting (to death) of a black man in Tulsa back on April 2nd while he was subdued by a white policeman quoted by the AP report as immediately saying, “Oh, I shot him. I’m sorry.” The AP report just happens to have been based on actual police video and voice recording. So I’m thinking about the whole issue. Freedom. Guns. Cameras. And about the least of these, my brethren, who are really my Lord Jesus being “done it unto” all over again. And then I breathe a prayer of thanksgiving for cameras. That’s right. For video recordings.

Jesus says in John 8:32, “…and the truth will set you free.” Can I get an Amen to that?

Having spent most of my last 40 years working as a mental health professional aimed at helping my clients come to terms with reality, and learning to love and be loved as the anti-dote for their emotional fears, I’m pretty big on getting at the truth in my counseling sessions. Over the years I’ve asked folks many times, “so what would you see and hear if your story had been captured by a movie (video) camera while that whole thing was happening?” Somehow knowing the truth has always seemed mentally healthy to me. And very helpful in freeing us from our fears.

That’s why I’m so big on Jesus. And freedom. And cameras. But not guns. It’s why I evolved academically and professionally from therapist to pastor. And why I think Jesus is especially “good news” and “truth” for a United States of America that today is culturally INSANE and plain batshit crazy in believing that our freedom is threatened by cameras but protected by guns. That’s why I feel personally most free around cameras but not guns.

Okay, now it’s your turn.

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Why crucifixion?

Yesterday’s news that one of my preaching mentors, Robert Schuller, passed away out in his beloved Orange County California, gave me an opportunity to reflect anew on something he used to say in every Good Friday message from his pulpits both in and out of doors. He said the cross was God’s way of turning a minus sign into a plus sign. I considered that quite profound the first time I heard it, and no less so even now when I think about its truth.

We live in a world of heartfelt minus signs. There are losses and “take aways” and subtractions of every sort today. We react with fear as our deepest emotion. “What’s this world coming to?” Ever ask yourself that one? For every minus in our lives, we sense fear. And the great temptation when sensing our own fear is to sow that same fear in others.  Misery loves company, I suppose.

The Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus were deeply afraid of Jesus. They saw him as a minus sign in their own world. He was a threat to their own power and position and status. By sewing their fear among others, it didn’t take too long for everybody to “catch the spirit” of fear, including the Jewish laity and even the Roman officials. The first line of the cross was the minus sign aimed at subtracting Jesus from their world. So he was “taken away” and crucified.

Metaphorical crucifixions take place around the world even today whenever fear spreads its evil wings.  Robert Schuller was right, however, in noting that it takes two lines to make a cross. The line drawn by God Himself was straight up and down and represented His own greatest love for us as His children. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16). When God’s love is applied to human fears, our minus sign becomes His plus sign. That’s what the cross of Jesus Christ represents to me on this Good Friday, 2015. Today’s challenge is to go forth into this weekend sowing and spreading love, not fear, and watching how quickly the world can change for the better.  On the positive side!

Thank you, Rev. Robert Schuller!

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