Friday, February 23, 2007

Amazing Grace

Guess what! I just found out today that Amazing Grace (the movie) is playing in Roanoke at the Valley View Grande! If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out my previous entry about the movie or go here: Look for a movie review coming SOON! :)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Snow Button

Tonight, Carlos rode home with me after Sparks and as usual, he was quite talkative. This time, however, he wasn’t just blathering and saying nothing at all. First, he talked about the stars and wondered if he could count them. He concluded the matter by saying that there were just too many to count. Then he started asking me about Heaven, and out of nowhere he says, “When I go to Heaven, I’m going to say ‘God, can I push the button to make snow?’ and God say ‘Okay, Carlos,’ so I’ll push the button and then – SNOW!” Trying hard not to laugh, I said “Do you think God pushes a button to make it snow?” Carlos: “No, he probably just speaks and it snows.” I then tried to explain how God makes it snow by turning the air cold and how water is in the clouds. He seemed pretty interested in this information.

As we drove, he kept talking about heaven and about seeing God. It went something like this. “Why can I not see God? God is everywhere? Wow! When I’m in heaven, will I disobey?” [Me]: “No, in heaven we’ll be just like Jesus and will always obey because we will love God perfectly and not have any sin.” [Carlos]: “When I’m in heaven, I’ll be safe and no bad mans can get me. If they try, they’ll die.” [Me]: “Well, to get to heaven, you have to die too.” [Carlos]: “If I die, will Mommy and Papi and Jeremiah be sad?” [Me] Yes, we’ll be very sad, but we’ll also be kinda glad since you’ll be with Jesus and being with Jesus is the best.” [Carlos]: “Maybe I cry and be a little sad. But then I’ll be happy with Jesus and we play games. Maybe I want to go to heaven right now. Why can’t I go to heaven now?” [Me]: “Well, God wants us to be with him, but maybe he says not right now and we have to wait. God wants us to tell other people about Jesus so they can go to heaven too.”

I tried to explain (very poorly) that just like I was his Papi, God can be our Papi too and he takes care of us. Then Carlos asked, “How come God not give me anything for Valentine’s Day?” [Me]: “Well, did God give you a Mommy and a Papi?” “Yes.” “Did he give you cookies to enjoy and friends to play with and a fun time at Tia Rebekah’s house and at Sparks?” “Yes…’re right. God gave me lots of things!” Later on, after he asked if God could hear him, I asked, “What do you want to tell God?” [Carlos]: “I want to tell him that I love him mucho mucho and that he is the best, best, bestest!”

There was so much else in the conversation, like when he asked why Jesus died and did he stay dead, and that he wanted to be like Jesus and always say sorry for disobeying. Unfortunately I can’t remember all the details of the conversation. But it struck me this evening driving home that with each of these conversations that Carlos has, I understand more and more what Jesus meant when he said to come to Him “as a child.” Trying to put into words a little 5-year old can understand makes me dig past all the “Christianese” and pat answers that we might give an adult and really explain what it is to be a child of God. “Thank you, my heavenly Papi, for my son who, in his own innocent way, reminds me to think of you and to love you. You are the best, best, bestest and I love you.”

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Amazing Grace - the movie

William Wilberforce is perhaps one of my most favorite people in history. For those who have never heard of him, Wilberforce was a Member of Parliament (English version of a Congressman or Senator) back in the 18th century who was passionate about social reform, particularly as it affected Christians. Perhaps most notable was his life-long drive to end the slave trade in the British Empire. After about 20 years and having his bills repeatedly defeated, he (along with others) won their fight to abolish slavery in England. One of his friends and mentors was someone who most people are familiar with, at least his name – John Newton. This is the same Newton who, himself once part of the slave trade, later penned the words to the much beloved hymn, “Amazing Grace.”

Wilberforce struggled with whether or not to continue in politics or whether, as a Christian, he should be doing something else, like Newton who was an evangelical pastor. He felt that he should be serving God and wasn’t sure if politics was the way to do it. Wilberforce came to realize, through the advice of Newton and others, that serving God and working in politics were not mutually exclusive and so remained in his political career. (As an aside, Wilberforce is a great example of how Christians are used by God in their everyday lives and work to further his kingdom. For a great book on the topic of “vocation,” check out Gene Edward Veith’s “God at Work.”)

What brought all this to my mind was that I just found out today that there is a movie based on the life of William Wilberforce coming out on Friday, Feb. 23 entitled, “Amazing Grace.” You can watch the trailers and a couple of video clips at Unfortunately it’s not playing in Roanoke, but it will be playing in Greensboro. I’m still undecided whether to drive down to see it or wait till video – but one way or the other, I am eager to see this movie. Check out the web site.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Political correctness

WE HAVE INTERNET ACCESS AT HOME!! Woo-Hoo!! Finally, after going around and around with the Internet company, we've gotten things straightened out. Sarah has got a lot of catching up to do! :)

My brother-in-law, John, asked me to do a write-up for him for one of his classes. His assignment was to ask three people to write what the term "political correctness" meant to them. I was one of the three and so I figured I might as well post my definition here too. Kill two birds with one stone. So without further ado, here it is. Any thoughts?

What is political correctness? As with most things, it consists of two extremes: a crutch used for dependency by some far-left wing liberals and a plague staunchly avoided by some far right-wing conservatives. The one attempts to lean heavily on political correctness by steering clear of using anything that may even have the appearance of offending any people or people groups. The other paints a somewhat false caricature of political correctness, unashamedly proclaiming the fact that they make no attempt of trying to tip-toe around anyone who might be offended by their words, all while “telling it like it is.” Both groups miss what true political correctness should represent.

In my opinion, political correctness involves making an effort both to raise awareness of diversity in all walks of life as well as attempting to be linguistically inclusive of these differences. This would include an awareness of the differences of race, gender, and religion, to list just a few. It is not an attempt to remove any possible hint of offensiveness in our communication as this is virtually impossible. Further, political correctness can be seen as a methodology in which we try to recognize and work past any stereotypes that we consciously or unconsciously have in our minds.

As such, should political correctness be something to avoid or to welcome? Again, in my opinion, it is something that should definitely be welcomed and worked towards in our communication. Recognizing the vast diversities in the people around us and seeking to include those differences in our minds and conversations will go a long way to creating a society more tolerant of one another.