Archived Post December 2009

December 2009



          “As Maria raised her head she knew that the court was not there.  The light was different and the ballroom floor was the quilt of her bed at home.  She opened her eyes wide.  The clear light of the morning was streaming into her room.  An icicle glittered outside the window pane, and beyond, the sky was intensely blue.  .  .  . ‘How late you have slept! And on Christmas morning!  The storm is over, and the whole world is washed clean.  You never saw such a beautiful Christmas Day.’”
~ The Nutcracker, by E.T.A. Hoffman ~

It has been a topsy-turvy autumn, and a topsy-turvy week, culminating in a topsy-turvy Christmas season that until yesterday left us uncertain of where we would be spending Christmas.  We have finally had some good news, regarding my Mother, who fell in October, broke her hip, and then developed an array of complications.  On December 23, she will be released from the rehabilitation facility, and will be home for Christmas!  Kate and I had planned to go north, to Massachusetts, to spend Christmas with her and my family, but there has been a change of plans.

The eastern corridor, of the United States, is now dealing with what is being called an epic snowstorm, which first visited us in south Florida with torrential rain and then headed north to close airports with up to 24 inches of snow, as it knocked out power, stranded motorist, and assured a white Christmas, for those so inclined.  Needless to say, we will not be heading north for Christmas, after all.

Thus, yesterday, after a rather complicated trip to Atlanta, we decided it was time to scoot the travel gear aside and go in search of holiday magic.  One of the luxuries of our life has become the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center, in Miami; though those of you who have accompanied us know that we buy the dreadfully cheap seats.  The opera house, and her sister building, the Knight Concert Hall, both have excellent acoustics and our seats have never deterred our enjoyment of the opera.  Last night, without tickets, we decided to dress and head to Miami, to see Handel’s’ Messiah, which is a part of our Christmas tradition.

Before heading toward Miami, we stopped at Nour’s to say hello to Nabil, his brother who has come to celebrate Christmas with Nour.  We had originally hoped to meet Nour’s eldest sister, who was not with the family two years ago, when everyone else came from Kuwait; but she was forced to postpone her trip, for another time.  It was good to see Nabil again, who came laden with surprises – the magic was beginning.

We were uncertain of which building the Messiah was playing, but parked where we normally do; stopping to tell the attendant that we did not have tickets, and did not want our car blocked in case we had to leave.  He said it had not been sold out the last night, and as of this morning there were still tickets; but could not give us back our money, if we could not get tickets.  Okay, we were going forward.  We then decided to verify that Messiah was playing at the Arsht, he knew nothing about the Messiah, perhaps it was at the Knight, he was talking about The Nutcracker – oh.  We still went forward.  As we stepped into the Arsht Center, the music and Christmas decorations suddenly lifted our spirits and swirled us into that holiday magic we had been seeking.

Stopping at the ticket window, we asked about the Messiah, and were told it was next door, though they did not know if tickets were still available; but they still had tickets for The Nutcracker.  We looked at each other, and asked the ticket agent about available seats.  In fact, he said, two seats dead center, in the fifth row, from the stage; and at that dreadfully cheap price which we normally pay to sit in the rafters!  We spontaneously changed our plans, which turned out to be an excellent choice, as today I have learned that the Messiah was in fact sold out.  What a lovely performance.  I felt like I was back in Los Angeles, in the days of student rush tickets, where you went to the theater and hoped to get a seat for ten dollars.

After the ballet, we made our way to Versailles, which is our tradition, as well as a great many other folks who leave the opera.  It is a Cuban restaurant, which is open till all hours of the morning, always filled, and where the patrons are as worth the drive as the food – though I must add that last night, the food was particularly excellent.  We sat enjoying our meal, and began to notice an array of young children, with too much make-up and hair pulled up tightly, in little ballerina buns.  One of the things I most love about Versailles are the tables of 70-90 year old women, who at midnight, are sitting enjoying Cuban food and coffee, dressed to the nines, and chatting away like school girls.  It is a restaurant filled with Miami’s passion and life, last night was no exception.  Eventually, even the lead dancers seemed to show up, how delightful to have an orchestra seat for that show as well!  I felt like we were in New York, perhaps in the 40’s sitting at Sardi’s, as the theater emptied out, and the actors gathered to await reviews.

Leaving the restaurant, which is the heart of Little Havana, aglow in the delight of the evening, I suddenly remembered another event, this week, in this neighborhood; and topsy-turvy returned.

Just a few short days ago, the Latin Chamber of Commerce sponsored a food give away.  In order to receive the free food, people were given a certificate, which the Chamber insured would entitle the bearer to a free food basket.  Nevertheless, beginning three nights before the food was to be handed out, people started to line up, outside of the distribution center, worried that the food would run out, before they were able to redeem their certificate.

On our local late night news, they showed the forming line and questioned some of the people waiting for food.  It was all predictable – individuals who were unemployed, disabled, or simply responsible for families which they could not feed.  Repeatedly, they commented that Christmas was coming and every bit helps.  The cameras went inside the distribution center, panning the room where bags of food were stacked, while a gentleman, with an assuring voice, stated that there was enough food for everyone with a certificate.

My eyes happened to focus on a can of pineapple, sticking out of a cloth shopping bag, and I wondered if I would stand in line for three days for a can of pineapple.  As the sentence formed in my mind, I have to say I was immediately overcome with shame.  No, I would not stand in line for three days for a can of pineapple, because I actually have the ability, thank God, to go and buy a can of pineapple.  I do not have a house filled with children who are hungry and I am not facing Christmas with empty cupboards; but I have known hunger and certainly grew up in a house where food was not always an abundant given.  How quickly we forget.

We have also learned this week, that the board of directors, for the home owners association, (HOA), has decided to raise our maintenance fee.  Kate is on the board, though she was not at the meeting where this decision was made.  After our HOA’s budget, for next year was completed and voted on, in a subsequent meeting where they knew Kate would not be present, the board voted the increased fee, which she had adamantly campaigned against.  I do not expect this change, in our monthly maintenance fee, to impact our household – once again, thank God.  But we are living in a neighborhood where fully one fourth of all homes are either in foreclosure or delinquent with their monthly maintenance assessment.  As I think about my friends and neighbors, I know that for many, in our little middle class neighborhood, even cheap seats to ballet are unimaginable, and for some I would venture to think that this year a can of pineapple is a luxury they cannot afford.  It is hard to be happy and sad at the same time – topsy-turvy.

As we continued our drive, Miami was particularly beautiful, with her buildings brightly lit, and the red and white car lights looked like streaming Christmas banners.  We will be home for Christmas.  Home is no small thing; and neither is Christmas.  Our house is filled with our history and traditions, and truly there is no greater time of year than Christmas; but I will not be with the rest of my family.  We shall eat well this holiday season and there will be presents under our tree; though I know that our blessings will not extend to many that we know, and countless that we shall never meet.  My Mother will be out of that hospital for Christmas; but her bed will undoubtedly be filled by another.  This is a time of joy, but there is still much sorrow – topsy-turvy.  I wish you all a Merry Christmas, that is all for now.



December 2009

“Let him who is without sin cast the first Stone”

“Debate over the Ugandan bill follows a conference in the capital Kampala earlier this year attended by American activists who consider same-gender relationships sinful, and believe gays and lesbians can become heterosexual through prayer and counseling. Author Don Schmierer and “sexual reorientation coach” Caleb Lee Brundidge took part; they did not respond to interview requests. A third American who took part in the conference in Uganda, Scott Lively, said the bill has gone too far. “I agree with the general goal but this law is far too harsh,” said Lively, a California-based preacher and author of “The Pink Swastika” and other books that advise parents how to “recruit-proof” their children from gays. “Society should actively discourage all sex outside of marriage and that includes homosexuality … The family is under threat,” he said. Gay people “should not be parading around the streets,” he added.”,2933,579743,00.html?test=latestnews
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.  John 10: 10-11


Have you heard of “corrective rape”?  The term and practice refer to the notion that rape, especially gang rape, can serve to correct lesbian sexual orientation.  If a woman is raped, strongly, violently, and a sufficient amount of times, she will suddenly have awaken within her a desire to have sexual relations with men, instead of women.  Sadly, it is not simply an academic term; rather it is a barbaric practice which is on the rise.  In April, 2008, Eudy Simelane, who was one of the first South African women, to live an openly gay lifestyle; and well known for having been a famous athlete, was not only gang raped but stabbed twenty five times, before she finally died – this in the African nation which is supposed to be tolerant.  For the victims there is no justice, as authorities simply turn their heads and women continue to live in fear.

Uganda is currently working to pass legislation that would not only imprison homosexuals, but also individuals, such as priest, who are aware of homosexual activity and do not report said activity to the authorities.  The legislation carries a death sentence for those repeatedly convicted of homosexual activity and “for active homosexuals with HIV.” It does not make mention of what will happen to heterosexual men, who give their wives HIV and AIDS, which the men have contacted from having sex with heterosexual women, who are not their wives – a well known problem in many parts of Africa, and the world!

In a week when the story of Tiger Woods alleged multiple infidelities, to his wife, have dominated the news, I was particularly enraged by this story.  Are gay people really what is threatening family life?  In the United States, 43.7% of custodial mothers are divorced and 56.2% of custodial fathers are either separated or divorced; according to, only 63% of American children grow up with their biological parents; while 45 to 50% of first marriages, in the United States, end in divorce, 60 to 67% of second marriages, and 70 to 73% of third marriages,  Overall, I would say those are rather poignant statistics that have absolutely nothing to do with gay people.

I am at a loss as to which aspects of this story most horrify me.  Is it the terror which homosexuals in Africa must live with, or the fact that American Christians are being credited with birthing this bill and the ideas which it purports?  Regardless of what your views may be on homosexuality, if you claim in any way to be a follower of Christ, you have to be saddened and outraged to think that this is what some American ministers are exporting.  Have Christians really given up on the notion that Christ brings redemption?  Do we really believe that putting someone to death for behavior we consider sinful is what Christ would do?

Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees, regarding what to do with a woman caught in adultery; they reminded him that according to the Law she should be stoned.  Christ bent down, began to write in the sand, and then said: “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.  Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8: 7-10)

I do not quote this scripture to proclaim that Christ advocated adultery.  In fact, he said:  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  (Matthew 5: 27) I wonder how many of the men putting forth this bill in Uganda could say that they can meet this standard, put forth by Christ?  Would those same men, advocate that Mr. Woods be put to death for adultery?

I do not care how you feel about homosexuality.  Nor do I care how you feel about gluttony, or lying, or adultery.  Christ was quite clear: Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.  Show of hands people:  Where are the sinless? I have yet to meet them, and I was literally born and raised in the church. I have never met a single person who is without sin.  The Bible calls all believers to live their lives by very high standards, which as far as I can see we constantly fall short of – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Christ said that he came to bring life abundantly.  Is killing someone because they are gay the way to demonstrate an abundant life?

Eighty-five percent of the Ugandan population considers itself Christian.  Does this bill truly reflect that Christian population?  There have been a lot of very prominent Christian leaders associated with this legislation and the Christian church in Uganda.

Mark Simmpa, who was until recently Rick Warren’s “point man” on Uganda is one of the bills supporters.  Warren who describes Uganda as a purpose driven nation, making reference to his own popular book, has only recently, under what might be considered duress has finally denounced the legislation; while C. Peter Wagner is said to be a strong supporter of making of homosexuality illegal in Uganda.  For the record, President Obama has not denounced the bill.|main|dl1|link1|

Whether you support gay rights or think homosexuality is sin, I urge you to search your soul and act.  Uganda is certainly not the first or only nation in which homosexuality is illegal.  Nor is Africa the only place in the world where corrective rapes are occurring; however, we find ourselves at a moment when hatred and evil is being legitimized with legislation and when those in power are simply turning their heads to the victims of these crimes.  Speak up!  I have included so many links in this story because I truly hope that you will choose to become better informed, regarding these issues, and that you will share your knowledge.  The true church cannot be silent.  That is all for now.

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