Book 7 teaser–Are you being forced or are you allowed to choose?

I’ve discovered the easiest way to decide what’s “right” and what’s “wrong”: by asking, “Am I being forced to accept this?”

If someone lays out the facts, then takes a step back to let me ponder and evaluate, then I’m much more inclined to accept their position.

But if someone tries to force their ideas on me, I dig in my heels and refuse to budge, because something is fundamentally wrong with the argument if it must be forced to be accepted.

And it doesn’t matter who or for what cause they’re forcing. I’ve known very religious people try to force their children/spouses to obey them. I’ve known agnostics and atheists do the same thing.

Force is always wrong, because it takes away a person’s agency: their God-given right to choose for themselves. And it IS God-given. That’s not a nicety, but a reality.

No ideology, political group, religious organization, government or family member has the right to force their opinion and will upon another. If someone is trying to control another, you can be sure they are acting devilish. That’s not an euphemism, but a fact: Satan is all about control, about force, about taking away freedoms. Lucifer is real, and his influence is very easy to spot. If someone’s trying to control you, there he is.

God, however, is not about control or force. Many religious groups and zealots, however, will hijack the notion of “god” and appropriate it as their own, pretending that their cause is god-driven and therefore you must follow. But the only god they’re following is the one they made up; they’re worshiping themselves and want you as a follower.

God, on the other hand, sent us to this earth as a testing ground. He wants us to choose right or wrong, good or evil, and He so values our freedom that, when we make mistakes, He’s even given us a way to fix them. He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to pay for our sins so we could come back to Him.

BUT–and this is a big BUT–only if we want to.

God is our Father, and like any good father He wants His children back home. But He will never force us back, never force His will. He sets out His terms, His promises, His hopes, then takes a step back and lets us choose for ourselves.

That is love.

Satan is not.

And every last argument in the world plays into either of these two courts: Are you being forced, or are you allowed to choose?

“You can’t force your will on someone,” Peto would say as he hauled the flailing teenager to the barn, “and demand they do what you want. That’s the Refuser’s way, not the Creator’s way. The Creator allows everyone to choose their way, even if it’s the stupid way. But the Refuser wants to control everyone’s lives. That’s not our way!” ~Book 7, The Soldier in the Middle of the World, coming October 2017

weekly meme background The Creator's way

 

Book 6 Teaser–Just how many laws are you breaking today?

There are so many laws in the United States—likely many more than 300,000—that no one is sure of just how many. I’m probably breaking a few laws typing in my robe near a window.

When I tried to find out how many laws there were in my state (they add an average 300-400 each year), I couldn’t find a definitive number, but Google popped up warning me that the official state websites wanted to know where I was, and would I allow my personal information to be shared?

I shut down those sites immediately, and likely broke another handful of laws doing so.

In re-reading one of my favorite books, “How to Rule the World,” I’m reminded again how governments become totalitarian by whittling away people’s freedoms, one law at a time. We’re told that they’re to protect us, to keep us “safe,” but since more and more regulation confines and restricts us, and we have to always ask the question, “Why?”

And then ask “Why?” again, and again.

book 6 teaser lots of rules

I worry that America is dying

This is my father’s coffin, July 2, 2015. These are the soldiers folding the flag that covered him.050

And while I watched the ceremony yesterday, I was struck that not only had my father died, but my country is dying, too.

I worry deeply about America. I agree with so many others who have written more eloquently, and angrily, that America is no longer the greatest country in the world.

And that would have broken my father’s heart. It’s odd to put it this way, but I’m grateful that Alzheimer’s took away his mind these past few years so that he couldn’t understand what was happening to the country he proudly became a citizen of 60 years ago. He loved America, but he wouldn’t recognize it today, and I worry about what it will be like in another 60, or even 6, years.

I worry because we are not united.
I’m not naïve; I doubt that this country has ever truly been “united,” aside from a couple of occasions. Once would have been during WWII when outside enemies provided us something to fight against instead of each other.
The second would have been a brief second honeymoon after 9/11 when we realized that our land was under no special protection, that we could be attacked like any old place, and that scared us.
But only for a time.

I worry because we all want to be victims.  
The notion of “freedom” has expanded and contracted in bizarre ways, granting to one segment of society the ability to act and demand anything they wish, while another segment is berated and demonized for nearly anything they express.
The fascinating thing is that every segment of society will claim to have been the one persecuted against. We scramble to cry foul and demand vindication and, hopefully, a huge payoff from a lawsuit.
No one wants to be independent anymore.

I worry because we want revenge.
In the past, in any quest for rights, the group feeling oppression marched and protested and demanded equality. And when they achieved it, they rejoiced.
But not anymore.
Many now want to punish those who they believed oppressed them (whether real or imagined), and drag up old wounds to make new ones. We don’t seem to believe in cooperation, or friendship, or forgiveness, or anything else we should have picked up from Sesame Street (I hesitate to say “church” because that may be deemed “offensive”.) We want to hurt those we believe have–or may in the future–hurt us.
None of us seem to want to break the vengeance cycle that could truly unite and free us.

I worry because we really aren’t free anymore.
Not free in choice of health care, school lunch, minimum wage, or even soda consumption.
Some of us aren’t free to choose to do a job, or to reject that job.
Some of us aren’t allowed to speak our conscience without being labeled or libeled. Many of us worry that our liberties will soon be our liabilities, especially if we express what we believe concerning God and His laws.
Soon what passes as “free speech” may be so tightly constrained that there will be nothing free in any speech anywhere.

I worry because we have become a country of selfish children.
Read stories of our ancestors during the Great Depression, or either of the World Wars. They sacrificed for their families and their neighbors. They knew true poverty. Millions of families–not just a few thousand, but literally millions–sent off husbands and sons to WWII, and over a million were wounded or killed. Food was rationed, as was clothing and shoes and gasoline, and Americans labored willingly to help their country succeed.
Today “sacrifice” is an ugly word, and we whine if we lose wi-fi. Even those who the government has deemed impoverished live with luxuries our grandparents didn’t dare dream of. We insist on being indulged, and “I’m entitled” is the phrase that pays. We’ve become soft and wimpy, and I think our ancestors would be ashamed.

050 cropped

Are we becoming only a reflection of what we used to be?

As I watched the flag suspended over my father’s coffin, the silhouette of it reflecting on the stainless steel (my mother chose their coffins; she loved the glint of silver), I felt that shiver of worry that not only had my father passed from this world, but so also had much of this country which he had loved.

He had emigrated from Germany at the end of WWII. He knew an oppressive society where the leadership demanded complete obedience, where freedoms were restricted, where children were forced into a near worship of the government, and where anyone who spoke against it was carted away to a “work camp” never to be heard from again.

I worry that as the so-called Greatest Generation passes away, so too will our memory of what they endured in totalitarian regimes, and why they fought so hard against them.

And mostly I worry that we’re running headlong into repeating the history we no longer remember.