Stepping into history can be heavy; Martin Luther King Jr/Memphis

On Friday last week I went to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. As soon as I left the parking lot it felt heavy, as this was the site where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

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Before even getting here, I the lover of history knew about this site from what I learned in history in my younger years. But reading about such places has a different weight to them, going to such sites can be so heavy.

In case you’ve never been to the museum it goes like this. You park, you walk in the parking lot outside of Martin Luther King Jr.’s room, you go into an underpass of sorts, go into the museum, make your way to the a higher level and there you are in the area where James Earl Ray was staying and conditions of this place are such so it’s presented as it was back then! The bathroom and cracked window in the above photo is where he was when he fired his rifle across to the hotel where Martin Luther King Jr. stepped out…it is eerie for many reasons, it is very matter-of-fact as to what happened.

It was heavy for me because I think about a lot of things, and when I think about individuals who have moved in the direction of progress, a LOT of people die in their prime for what they believe and stand for; Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, Bobby Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr…the list goes on.

There’s something to living for what you believe, and I truly try to live out what I believe as a follower of Christ on a daily basis. Yet there’s also something to living what you believe even if it costs you your life. I don’t think I have any threats against me, I’m a peaceable person and don’t get into a lot of arguments. I passionately dialogue and discuss things out, and so I don’t think I’m someone worth targeting despite perhaps coming from a different stance from different people.

Still those who are martyred for what they believe hold admiration on my part, now suicide bombers who martyr themselves do not hold any admiration, perhaps that’ll be another blog post for another day.

***

Martin Luther King Jr. studied the peaceful protesting methodology of Mahatma Gandhi, and he was also a follower of Christ. His words and speeches are prolific and well-known, and he exemplified St. Francis of Assisi’s words “make me an instrument of your peace”. Being where he was when he gave up his spirit and passed on was awe-educing, the silence of that place was deafening. I too want to live out a life of being an instrument of peace, as well as progress for humanity. How will that all look? I don’t know fully know yet, but I am getting to where I need to be in life and I have God to thank for that.

~Nathanael~

Love transcends Religion; A Muslim wedding

Tomorrow night at about this time, my friend of 8 years is getting married. πŸ™‚ It’s the first time I will be attending a Pakistani wedding as well as a traditional Muslim wedding, and it all started with a friendship based around defining stereotypes…

In my early college days long gone by I was active; active with the school’s newspaper, cross-country team, Christian Fellowship and a grassroots Diversity group. To which in that diversity group I met the girl who’s getting married tomorrow…

One topic that was raised by the facilitators, who were ready to shut it down if worse came to worse was the nature of stereotypes pertaining to religion. I don’t recall if she started the conversation or I did, but for the most part she addressed how people in a post 9/11 world has treated her badly, calling her names and expecting her to be wearing an explosive vest ready to blow herself and other people up.

I addressed how some people think Christians are homophobic, bigoted, narrow-minded Bible bashing individuals, and how I’m perceived that I have an air about me that proclaims I’m “holier-than-thou”.

When we flushed out the stereotypes, our friendship started to bloom. In the hallways we’d pass each other and she’d threaten to blow me up with her explosive vest and I threatened to Bible bash her to death…to the outsider it seemed malicious and absolutely wrong, but it our humorous greeting to one another.
That was the start of our friendship and it has been going well despite different belief systems and being really busy, but I thank God for every moment I have to hang out with her and just catch up and BE.

***

About a month ago I met her fiance, we had brunch and it was great to catch up with her and to finally meet her guy. πŸ™‚ I dig him, he’s a well thought out and compassionate guy, plus his rendition of how-we-met was great, as well as my friend’s commentary in-between, they certainly sound like a married couple already! πŸ˜‰

It will be a fun wedding, I can only attend for 1 day but I have been invited to all 3! Camera-in-hand I will be taking behind the scenes photos for both of them, I’m told it will be a good time and plenty of dancing, I’m a little timid about the latter but not too timid.

My friend and I have many differences apart from our belief systems, but I am glad they do not divide us, but our similarities and our friend love unites us, I can’t wait to celebrate her day (and I’m sure she’d say the same).

Good times and God times await me as well as my Muslim friends who are getting married! Yay! πŸ˜€

~Nathanael~

6/30 – Being myself is a difficult task at times

Being myself is a difficult task at times

The road my life is heading to is hardly paved let alone well marked as to where I’m going can be bothersome and quite lonely. Without a trace of elitism I say that following God into uncharted waters is very daunting at times, but it must be done.

Pressure much? I know there are Christians out there who are doing their part at building bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community, there’s overlap but there needs to be more and I want to be a part of that process. It still pisses me off at times when I think about who the majority of my critics for this is, fellow Christians, individuals I’ve known for years still try to cut me down and write off what God’s doing and what I’m doing. I had a pastor that for a while I respected start making fun of the LGBT community and I stepped in and defended them, he got angry because I got the upper hand in a peaceful manner, so he let me know that I’m going to hell as a result, hardly Christlike at all.

I am getting better at handling my critics, but it still gets to me when Christians open up their mouth and feel free to say whatever the hell they feel like. Jesus demonstrated love and humility, he didn’t open up his mouth all the time but only when necessary, some things I want to speak out against but I bite my lip, but when it comes to speaking up for someone or others, I will!

To paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr. “It’s not the words of our enemies we’ll remember but the silence of our friends” and honestly I don’t want to be on the side of silence. Plus there’s the dynamic of the poem by Martin NiemΓΆller called First they came;

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

I don’t want to get to a point where my silence speaks louder than my words, I don’t want to grow old[er] and find myself in a place where I’m complacent in hostility, if God grants me a long life I hope to do my best to honor him with all of my years and not find a niche that fits nicely, where I have the big house, the 401K, the summer home along the coast. I was born for pressure and I can hold my own, where I’m going isn’t a well trod path but God is with me, and as Paul said in Romans 8:31 “If God is for us who can be against us?” I personalize that verse, if God is for me who can be against me?

It’s a road that I don’t know where it’ll take me, the end is not inside, but God is with me.

Challenge accepted!

~Nathanael~

P.S. Another factor to this road ahead of me is finding my June, God willing she’s up to being a part of this journey as well. I know there are girls out there who desire to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community, I just have to find her πŸ™‚ Where art thou my fairest June? πŸ˜‰

God in ordinary life; has God changed?

God in ordinary life, no bright beams of life a-crashing down on me, no audible voices that sounds like Morgan Freeman (he has a nice “God” voice)…

But as I showered not too long ago I pondered a question:

Has God changed?

God has been around for quite sometime…some, time, haha…God made time but cannot be bound by it, we’re the ones who rely on seconds/minutes/hours/days/weeks/months/years…

Anywho, God, has he changed…

I don’t think that God has changed since the dawn of him creating everything. But I do think our perceptions of God has changed over the years; from times when people felt the need to fight others in his name, when people offered up sacrifices to appease him, when people saw God as gods and thought every element had a god affixed to it in some shape and fashion.

Now there are those the world over who still do these things, and still believe gods are behind everything there is to living as well as dying and being dead. Their views of God aren’t backwards or ancient, they’re still perceiving that’s who God is, their perception of God is their perception of God, and when you believe that for so long who’s to say they’re wrong? I think God can work within culture groups like this, he’s great at contextualization where us humans sometimes lack the sympathy and compassion to engage these types of people on their own terms.

I can actually see this in my timeline, I once believed in a God that was “that kid” who lit fireworks over an anthill or with a magnifying glass, just toying with smaller creatures, messing with us hoping we’d fight back only to be zapped and made into crispy critters.
But as I’ve gotten older, and hopefully a bit wiser, I look at the nature of who God is through Jesus (which, I know, the Trinitarian God thing is hard to piece together at times); Jesus came to Earth, humbled himself, lived amongst us and taught of us how we can get right with God, how to love others as God love us. He died, was buried but 3 days later he came back! As I read what usually gets marked in red letters I have a better perspective on how to live my life and how to help others out, I don’t believe in Christianity as I believe in the good news of Jesus, for Christianity doesn’t save me, but God saves me on a continual basis!

My perception and perspective of God has changed, not God changing. I see abundant love and grace and mercy for all of humanity, where once I saw a God who looked down upon us angrily sighing at how bad we screw things up sometimes.

What’s sad to me is that some Christians still live in Old Testament times and fear God more than they love him, at least their actions seem to be ones of worry and doing all the right things so as to attain God’s favor. It doesn’t work like that any more, that perspective has changed by way of Jesus and what he did, again it’s the perspective changing and not God. God isn’t pissed off at his creation, he loves us all so much, he demonstrated this by sending humanity Jesus. Everything hinges on who Jesus is and what he did for us.

So what about those times where the Bibledoes point to God calling the Israelites to attack a certain group of people in his name? What about “those moments”?

I don’t know, maybe I’ll think of something next time I shower…

~Nathanael~

8/31 – What has led me to where I am now

What has led me to where I am now

This is quite the loaded question but I’m willing to give it a shot…

I am a follower of Christ based upon the fact that I chose to my faith and trust in who Jesus is and what he did. My walk with him hasn’t been a lot of mountaintop experiences, but I’m okay with that, I am comfortable with being in the valley in the midst of other people who are in the valley which puts me in a good place in building relationships because there isn’t a sense of elitism, a me-looking-down-at-them perspective. If God is on the side of the underdogs, the oppressed, the marginalized, the down-and-out, the castaways, the proverbial “least of these” I am glad to walk with them and share in their good times as well as bad.

I am the oldest son of an oldest son of an oldest son of an oldest son of an only son…Fate? Coincidence? I don’t know, but I do wish there was some form of a birth rite to honor this position put upon me, but since there isn’t one I will have to make one for my eldest son when I get there in life.

I work with people in the Behavior Health field, which I got this job due to my connections, my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a little bit of previous experience.

I enjoy photography, which stemmed from using a Polaroid camera b.i.t.d (back in the day) and stinky disposable cameras. For a while it was my sister who was the photographer, but I made quantum leaps once everything pretty much went digital.

I enjoy the great outdoors more than the ‘great’ indoors because I spent a lot of time camping in Wisconsin when I was younger, because I feel God’s presence in a grove of trees or on a beach with the waves crashing upon the shore.

I’m involved in youth ministry because 10 years ago I felt the call to go into youth ministry, and for the past 9 years I have been working in different churches and parachurch forms of youth ministry. I don’t know where I’ll end up eventually, but I pray and feel the tug to head out to Southern California and work with high school students. Any takers? πŸ˜‰ Seriously tho, I do need to network and make contacts with churches out there.

I’m into cars too much (Auto addict, yeah…maybe I am) because some of them are fast, some of them look great, and some have best of both worlds going for them. I have a lot of car books and memories, my favorite of the latter have been the following: 1) Liking a guy’s brand new British Racing Green Jaguar XJ6 back in 1988, my earliest car memory 2) Getting some track time in an Audi/BMW/Lexus, I want more track time, it’s very fun and most of the time fast! 3) Being invited to check out the then new Bugatti Veyron in Chicago with my bro… I like cars and hope to have something fun and track capable in the future.

I choose to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community, I wrote about it here.

I think that covers most of who I am, if needed be I will edit this post.

~Nathanael~