Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter musings

Today is Easter Sunday. At Church, pastor talked about the resurrection of Christ and what it means for you and me. To illustrate his point, he showed not less than six video clips from 2004's The Passion of Christ to the more recent 2017 The Case for Christ. I suppose the only way to drive home the point to millennials now is to show them movies. Speak their language, we always say.

After Church we had lunch with the grandparents. Lunch always feels like a battle these days because the kids are starting to prefer food. Sarah is notoriously picky. You'll have to plead for an average time of 15 minutes before she opens her mouth for a vegetable. She's also becoming overly dramatic lately when expressing what she wants. Right after lunch, she demands to go in one of those bouncy castles in the middle of the mall. Of course, we couldn't go in because last night's rain rendered the castles unusable. As far as she's concerned, this silly fact cannot hinder her stubborn desire. Facts must bend to her feelings. Drama queen.

"Good attitude, or I will spank you."

That settled it.

It's been a long week of healthy food eating care of the chef of the house - my wife. So I figured since it's Sunday, we can treat ourselves to donuts. I grabbed my family to the donut place nearby and made Sarah pick one donut to share. In our family, we share everything. Very seldom are you entitled to one donut.

So she picked the pinkest donut she can find (Heaven Berry, it was called). Banne ordered coffee and a glazed donut. Ethan did not have a say on the matter. Off they went looking for seats while I paid. And then I splurged buy frozen yogurt with almonds, mango (kids favorite) and strawberry toppings. I deserved it.

I was told the yogurt won't be done in a while, so I rejoined my family with two donuts on the tray. To kids it does not matter if you give them 5 or 10 or 25 donuts. If you come bearing one donut, they'll scream their delight just the same.

I gave each one a fork (even Ethan) and we attacked the donuts in maybe 3 minutes flat. Which of course made Sarah sad. And before another Oscar-winning performance commenced, I said the frozen yogurt will be coming soon.

There has never been a face that transitioned from gloom to joy in such a short time! It was hilarious. She went straight from crossing her arms and pouting to raising her arms in victory. Night and day!

Then the frozen yogurt came and we descended upon it like locust. Ethan survived, I am happy to report.

I suppose all of us instinctively feel there is inherent sadness with things ending. We hate the ending of a long week-end vacation. We dread when love turns sour and curtains fall on a romance. No one, and this is fact, has ever dealt with the reality of death with grace. Things, like Sarah's donut are bound to run out. And that yogurt that comes after? It will run out too.

God knows this. And on that fateful Easter Sunday more than two thousand years ago, He did something about it. He rose from the dead. It was God mocking at what we all know to be the most final finality. He shed off his burial linens, and rose from the dead. Thereby giving all of us - Sarah, myself, you and your loved ones - the hope that things will never have to end.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Magic That Perverts The Truth

There is a form of magic that is gripping my country right now. It turns otherwise sane, respectable people, into unrecognizable strangers who get stranger by the day. I never thought this magic had been so pervasive until a doctor – a most beloved woman and dear friend to me – showed me recently how she had succumbed to this wizardry. I listened to her defend with all her professional credibility what to me was an obvious lie. When a magic so perverts the truth, I hope you will agree that it cannot be the good type.

We were there, conversing as friends do. Because we believe in the importance of the family, our topic naturally turned to our children. Children, we are convinced, remain to be one of the most vulnerable victims of the modern day. We were pondering the phenomenon of homosexuality and the preponderance of evidence that suggest sexual abuse done to children causes this. Not only homosexuality, but also a plethora of other deviancy. I have recently read Dobson’s important book “Bringing Up Boys”. There, Dobson strongly advises against leaving boys and girls to the care of any adult who is not the child’s parents if only to remove the possibility however remote of a sexual abuse. The stakes are simply too high. A singular act done to a child can change the course of that child’s life and his perception of himself.

As we lamented this fact, she started speaking manifestations of the magic I speak of. She suddenly said the reason why there are too many children being sexually abused recently is because of – you guessed it – drugs. Her remark startled me. It came out of nowhere, and the connection seemed to me rather forced. I did not respond and simply stared back at her. She went on how drugs has been a total menace, and how children now are paying the price because drug addicts are sexually molesting them. Again, I did not respond. That thread of the conversation having properly left hanging, we went on to talk about other things.

First, the facts. There is absolutely no evidence I can find that can support her assertion. There is of course a link between drug addiction and criminality, evidence supports this. But to draw a straight line from drug addiction and being predisposed to sexually abuse children is irresponsible.
To begin with, to draw a straight line between drug addiction and crime, we need to understand what we mean by crime.

There are three categories of drug-related crime that we know of:

  • Drug behavior – crimes that resulted from drug users’ mental state and behavior have been altered by the chemical effects of drugs. Examples of this are rape, murder, etc.
  • Economic – crimes that resulted from drug users’ need to acquire drugs. Examples of this are theft, robbery, holdup, etc.
  • Structural – crimes that resulted from actors to maintain the structure and hierarchy of the drug trade. Examples of this are drug smuggling, turf wars, etc.

Out of the three categories, my friend is obviously alluding to drug behavior. I am yet to see evidence that drug addiction causes one to sexually abuse children. To establish this link, one must make the case that child molesters are – for the most part – drug addicts. Again, there is no evidence of this.

However, this is the second fact that is troubling: The converse is true. There is strong evidence that the reason why many are drug addicts is because they have been sexually molested as children. Studies confirm that children who experienced being sexually molested go through changes in the chemistry and neurology of their brains that predisposes them to drug dependency. This is fact.

To those who subscribe to the magic that posits drugs as the source of all evil, this is a most inconvenient fact. For this magic to work, it must first assume that drug addiction is a choice. And since it is such, drug addicts must be held accountable for their choice. This magic is reinforced by juxtaposing their cruelty and the horrible sorrow and calamity they bring to their victims. Their victims must be avenged. An eye for an eye ad infinitum.

What of the fact that these drug addicts we so quickly vilify are themselves victims? The dark magic will have none of that. For indeed that will break the magic down. The government policies, like magic spells, must be rewritten. The Dark Lord himself must apologize. The Dark Lord does no such thing.

Until then, we can only hope our own children will not suffer his wrath.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Redwoods

We have stood for centuries like pillars
To watch the endless procession of men and women
Who love and hate and act as if they wield power over us who
Carry the weight of an ever-changing sky

[Muir Woods, Nov 22, 2016]

Monday, November 14, 2016

Take Home

I have traveled an unimaginable distance
In economy class
To escape an unkind economy that has given my father cause
To say goodbye to me that day in the airport
With a list of pasalubongs written on the back of a tape receipt.

I have heard the language of a people
Who look at me strangely still
Unless I open my mouth and in front of them
Do an impromptu speech - a sentence or two perfectly accented.
The great performance of my daily life now.

I have eaten meals with so much leftover it can feed a family back home.
(But how do you say take home? Take out? Bring out? To go?)
Back where I am from there are no leftovers.
We eat everything.

We believe everything, too.

We believe in heroes until they tell us they are actually foes.
We detested foes until they are given hero's burials.
We believe in truths about our nation's character
that we will believe to be lies if you tell us to.

A faith like a child's.

We believe in a child-god and we dance on the streets for him.
I have driven the freeways here and you cannot dance on them.
There are many traffic signs but none that say
I can dance for my child-god.

So I obey
Like what my father used to tell me.
Before he died of cancer and was buried as my hero.

I'm wild again, beguiled again
A whimpering, simpering child again
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered, am I

He used to sing that song to me.

[Written in Lake Tahoe, Nov 13 2016, for the Filipino overseas and for Ed]

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Mark 6:31

Politics is not new. The Bible says that John the Baptist suffered under the cruel politics of court life. All the elements of a modern-day scandal was there - ambition, sex, power play, and of course, death.
John used to be an ally to King Herod, no doubt enjoyed some favors from the ruler. Until the king wanted to bed his brother's wife Herodias. John warned against it. Of course Herodias hated John. So when the opportunity struck, she asked her own daughter to have John killed. Herod, cornered by his own pride, relented. John the Baptist was killed - his head delivered on a plate.
When the disciples heard what happened, they rushed to Jesus. As the obvious successor to John the Baptist, I'm quite sure they expected some form of retaliation from the Christ. Perhaps at least some public statement denouncing this evil. A protest maybe for the death of a good friend. Any form of political opposition.
Jesus responded with, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” In the succeeding verses, Jesus proceeded to feed a crowd of five thousand with two loaves and five fish.
 
If you ever feel overwhelmed by the politics of the times, let's heed Jesus' instructions. Seclude, rest a while. Pray, more than ever and focus on what is more important. Because you see friends, politics is like the shifting shapes of sand. But the concerns of the Lord is eternity.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

To my beloved friend

You now raise a loud voice
against those you once were.

Make your voice softer,
kinder,
lessen the blows of harsh accusations
that may very well be spoken to you,
to who you once were,
mired in the shame
you shame people for.

If not for Grace,
you would not have been saved
from your own judgments.
Had the measure you now mete
been measured unto you,
you will be found wanting.

(The Lord bless you and keep you:
The Lord make His face to shine upon you,
To shine upon you and be gracious, and be gracious unto you.)

Be gracious.

Give others the chance
at a life you now enjoy.
My friend,
you would not have outrun the loudness
of your own voice.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Father to the fatherless

It's a straw man. The drug menace we face is a symptom of an even bigger issue. It is happening all over the world, and if we are not careful, it will happen in our homes.

Fatherlessness is a problem. Every man must learn that the consequences of his poor decisions not only impacts his own family but society at large. We are sorely missing men who provide for his family responsibly, love his wife, mentor his children - basically, men who keeps the promises he makes.

A society without these fathers is fertile ground for any leader who will act like a dependable tatay. He will fill a vacuum in the hearts of men and women longing for the stability and strength of a loving father. When men abdicates their role to lead, discipline and protect their families, people will appropriate to the government this holy role. Parenting will no longer be a child sitting on her father's lap to be taught, it will be written in laws, implemented in statutes and enforced by state agents legal or otherwise.

And so we go back to the cause. We recognize the straw man for what it is - straws. We go back to the heart of the problem that so often eludes us because it hurts too much to discuss. Where are the fathers?

And then there is God. Who reveals Himself in the poet's words as the "father to the fatherless." The Abba Father. The only hope for the world. Let us know Him for ourselves, this perfect father. He who leads perfectly, loves sacrificially, and protects mightily.