UNINVITED GUEST: Hurricane Sandy left many things topsy-turvy at the Jersey Shore.
Hurricane Sandy did a whole lot of mischief here at the Jersey Shore. So much so that Halloween has been canceled* by order of the governor. I doubt anyone cares. We’re too busy looking for power, gasoline, and cell service to celebrate anything more than our safety and that of our loved ones.
Any Jersey Shore native worth his or her salt has lived through a few hurricanes and many a nor’easter. Few of us has seen anything like this. Where I live two miles inland from Mantoloking, New Jersey, we lost power and saw a lot of downed trees. A mile east and all the way to the bay, the water was four feet deep yesterday. The main road is clear today, but the smell of diesel fuel is strong closer to the bay that separates us from the barrier island. Boats that were knocked off their boatyard perches and found their way into the street and onto people’s porches.
I won’t lie. I was badly frightened Sunday evening as Sandy came barreling toward us. I watched the big, old trees swaying and worried that one in particular would come crashing down in my living room. As I considered that tree, I was reminded how often we fear the wrong things. I worried, for example, about many potential threats when my children were young. Mental illness was not one of them and it killed my child.
So I didn’t let the fear of that tree get the better of me. I stayed out of the living room during the witching hour and woke up Monday to find trees down in my neighbors’ yards, but only a large branch in mine.
I’m about to lose hundreds of dollars worth of food in my freezer as the 48-hour window for freshness closes and ice is a distant dream. The temperature is supposed to go down to the 30s tonight, so who knows, perhaps that problem will be solved by an uncomfortable grace.
No matter what happens, like millions of other people on the East Coast, I’m reminded again how uncertain life is and how little control we have over it. What we can control is how we prepare—physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually—and how we respond. Nerves are frayed and tempers are short, my own included. But generosity and kindness are strong.
At the Hilton Garden Inn in Lakewood, New Jersey, where many are awaiting news of their island homes, the staff has been extraordinary, even to those of us who aren’t staying in the hotel. Business has been suspended in a sense and replaced by community service and compassion. Disasters, as we repeatedly learn are common grace moments. We should treasure them, even as we mourn and struggle through. I don’t have any thoughts more profound than that today.
*Correction: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie postponed Halloween until Nov. 5. He didn’t cancel it.
*Photos courtesy Explorations Media, L.L.C. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr.
THE END OF HYPOCRISY: Conservative activist Dinesh D’Souza built a career as a person of color who was willing to champion traditionally white conservative views. But a scandal lost him his job as a Christian college president. (Photo: Mark Taylor/Wikipedia)
Here is yet another example of how GOP conservatives pimp evangelical Christians.
Outspoken conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, who is highly sought after on the Christian speaking circuit, recently resigned from his post as president of The King’s College, a private Christian institution in Manhattan. Why? Because while delivering the keynote address on “defending the faith and applying a Christian worldview” at First Baptist North in Spartanburg, S.C., D’Souza, who is married (though allegedly separated from his spouse), was outed for sharing a hotel room with a female who is not his wife. He referred to his “traveling companion” as his fiancé.
So let’s get this straight: A Christian leader, who promotes conservative Christian values in his books and speeches, who heads a Christian college, is speaking at a Christian event on defending the faith, but is sharing his hotel room — and likely its bed — with a woman, Denise Joseph, who is not his wife.
Christian publication World Magazine broke the story which led to D’Souza’s eventual resignation from King’s College claiming he didn’t want to be a “distraction.” Of course prior to that D’Souza ran to the conservative Fox News and passionately denied wrongdoing because he and his wife of 20 years have been separated for two. He claimed World Magazine misreported the story and even wrote that “This is pure libel.”
“I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced, even though in a state of separation and in divorce proceedings,” D’Souza wrote. “Obviously I would not have introduced Denise as my fiancé at a Christian apologetics conference if I had thought or known I was doing something wrong. But as a result of all this, and to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, Denise and I have decided to suspend our engagement.”
C’mon playa. Are all of us Christians that naïve, or just stupid? Certainly the world is not buying your pure lie.
Look, men (and women) behaving badly is not foreign to us Christians. I know it’s not foreign to me. Many of us were doing it out in the world before we came to know Jesus. Many of us have found ourselves falling into sexual sins while in the church, whether the sin be homosexuality, fornication, or adultery. In the Bible, David fell into adultery and brought Bathsheba down with him (2 Samuel 11 ). There are other examples. Sin is sin. There’s no hierarchy. We’ve ALL fallen short of God’s glory, which is why we need Jesus Christ to cover and redeem us daily. The deeper sickness is how too many so-called conservatives promote themselves as the keepers of the nation’s moral conscience, proclaiming how others must behave, yet masking their own sins. Unlike what Jesus warned us in Matthew 7, these hypocrites look pass their “beams” and point out other people’s “twigs” on their way to personal fame, fortune and political power.
But as certain Christians attach themselves to these conservative hypocrites, what does it say about OUR collective witness to the world when the truth comes to light? For example, how can we in good conscience fight against state and federal laws that would allow other taxpaying Americans their right to same-sex marriages, when we don’t honor the church’s marriage covenant? Meanwhile, we allow divorce, which is equally sinful, as if it’s no big deal.
Another big deal problem with D’Souza is that he not only pimps Christianity but also the sin of racism. D’Souza is behind 2016: Obama’s America, a scathing documentary about President Obama based on D’Souza’s best-selling book The Roots of Obama’s Rage. At $26 million so far, it’s the second-highest grossing political documentary. D’Souza is an Indian American who was born in Bombay, Maharashtra, India. Yet, he makes his fortune and fame by attacking not just a member of another minority group, but the nation’s first black president — the symbol of the dreams that helped black Americans endure the deep pain, blood, sweat and tears since the first child of African descent was born in North America in Virginia in January 1624.
Many Asian Indians began immigrating in large numbers to the United States soon after the passage of the 1946 Luce-Celler Act, which allowed 100 of them to enter per year and become naturalized citizens. Dalip Singh Saund, who would in 1957 become the first Indian American congressman as a Democrat from California, was instrumental in the act’s passage. He also supported the civil rights movement. Unlike black Americans whose ancestors were brought unwillingly crammed in hulls by the hundreds per ship as slaves whose backs would build America’s economy, many Asian Indians came by airplane on education and work visas from Canada, South African and of course India. Many of them today, in the spirit of Saund and Mahatma Gandhi, whose nonviolent leading of India’s independence from Great Britain inspired the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., understand and appreciate the plight of being marginalized and oppressed in your own country. But then there are those like D’Souza, and governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and Nikki Haley of South Carolina, who discovered they could slither along the back of the civil right movement, and move on up in the Republican “Dixicrat” Party. With their darkened skin tones, they prostitute themselves as some newer more acceptable minority that won’t rock the boat. Theirs is a new shuck and jive at the expense of blacks, whites and others who fought and died trying to equalize opportunities for all Americans.
Meanwhile, America grows more and more divided by race as recent polls show this election may be the most polarized since 1988 and that anti-black racial attitudes have increased during Obama’s presidency.
In light of this national crisis, how would our Prince of Peace, unity and justice have us defend the faith and apply a Christian worldview?
All of us, including D’Souza, ought to read Matthew 7.
NEW YORK UNDERWATER: A photo taken on Oct. 29, 2012, shows vehicles on a flooded street in the Queens Borough of New York City. Hurricane Sandy, the tenth hurricane this year, was one of the strongest storms ever to slam the U.S. East Coast. (Photo: Wang Chengyun/ZUMA Press/Newscom)
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and the unprecedented havoc that she wrought, there is a tremendous need for support services for those that sustained damage to their homes and businesses, as well as the first responders and volunteers on the ground who will be helping them. Many people are still without electricity, facing flooding, a shortage of food, and the potential loss of property and income. While emergency personnel from both local and state governments are working to assist many in the affected regions, there is always a need for more support. You can help by donating money to relief organizations. Below is a list of just a few. Feel free to add others to the comments section.
In addition, one of the most important things we can do is to pray for Sandy’s victims, as well as the emergency responders and volunteers who will be helping them in the days ahead. The Christian Post offers this list of specific needs that you can use to focus your prayers.
Charities Offering Services for Hurricane Sandy Victims
Red Cross operates emergency shelters throughout the affected areas, provides medical and food services, and has emergency vehicles ready to help with transportation needs.
Americares is a medical and supply organization that helps distributes emergency supplies to afflicted areas.
Salvation Army provides emergency supplies, food, medicine, care, and transportation services in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.
An emergency fund for victims of Hurricane Sandy
Save the Children provides food, medical, and emergency services for poor children and families. They have a specific program for those affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Convoy of Hope
Convoy of Hope is a faith-based humanitarian organization that’s loosely affiliated with the Assemblies of God. It has a long history of responding to natural disasters in the U.S. and abroad.
World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to serving the world’s poor. It also has team in place to respond quickly to natural disasters in the U.S. and around the globe.