by Rand Walker
Turkeys are considered the essence of ineptness and stupidity. Perhaps they are categorized unfairly, but nonetheless, the word “turkey” carries negative connotations when it refers to certain people or undesirable events in our lives. Sometimes, we invite turkeys into our lives; other times, they show up unannounced or are driven into our space by something or someone else. This is a true anecdote about such as incident in my life a few weeks ago.
Some background is needed to set the scene. I live in a rural area that seems like a wildlife reserve at times. It is not unusual to see deer by the dozens grazing in the front yard or to hear hawks screaming overhead because they are being dive-bombed and aggravated by crows, or they are circling slowly, hunting for prey. Coyotes howling at night are a normal occurrence, but they have been heard howling before sunset, their otherworldly yelps and chortles growing closer together as two of them locate each other. Hence, turkeys wandering through the yard or in the woods just feet from my house are considered normal and part of the territory.
A nearby neighbor has a dog named, Joe. He is a German Shepherd/Border Collie mix who wandered up when he was a puppy more than five years ago. His pleasant, friendly nature endears him to us, so we feed him at my house, and he stops by on his rounds to visit. One peculiar thing about Joe is that he is very reluctant to enter the house, even the sunroom. Why this is important will become clear, later.
There is an 18’ by 12’ sunroom attached to the rear of my house with glass doors and panels around three sides. The doors can be opened and the screens slid into place. It was a sunny, quiet mid-spring Sunday evening, and two of the sunroom doors were opened with the screens in place. I have a cat, Missy, who is very skittish, and she was curled up on the loveseat in the sunroom, napping like most cats do during the day. I was in my recliner in the living room, reading a book. The door between the sunroom and the kitchen was open. Basking in the quiet and the solitude, I was engrossed in my book when suddenly, I heard a loud sound that had the qualities of both a thud and a crash, followed by the cat’s claws scratching for traction as she hastily made her exit from the sunroom, down the corridor to the basement steps, and into the basement. My first thought was, What the hell has that cat knocked over? She likes to climb, and there is a bar-height table in the corner of the room along with a couple of lamps and plant stands scattered around the room. I laid my book to the side and rose from the recliner, reluctantly, and walked through the kitchen toward the open door to the sunroom. I was not prepared for what I saw.
by Randy Walker
If you think your way is the only way, you might be “stuck in the details.” If you belittle those who do not look like you, act like you, or think like you, you might be “stuck in the details.” If dogma rules your life, you might be “stuck in the details.”
First, what is meant by the idiom, “stuck in the details”? Has anyone encountered someone who is obsessive-compulsive over certain things in his or her life? This person becomes consumed with a minute detail, or details, that have little impact on the person’s quality of life, and in doing so, misses the “big picture,” or the things that do matter and affect the quality of life or the outcome of something in particular. I once worked for someone who displayed this quirk to the extreme. He and I worked in construction. This man would obsess over visible brush strokes left on a painted surface, imperfections in trim molding, or other minor blemishes to the point that he would miss obvious things, such as a missing storm door, blatant damage to an outside wall or other similar but what should be easily detected flaws. In other words, he was “stuck in the details,” and he missed the “big picture.”
I believe it is easy for many people to do, essentially, the same thing when it comes to religion or worldviews. To me, religious dogma is an example of details, and people tend to focus on dogmatic “details” and miss the more crucial “big picture.” Stated another way: the doctrine and the rules included in the dogma become more important to some people than how they view and treat people they encounter. They will argue, vehemently, about a minute point of doctrine and proclaim that if other people do not believe just as they do, such people are inferior, hell-bound, unfit, outcast, ex-communicated... the list goes on.
by Mark Sandlin and the Admin Team of "The God Article."
“Being a slave to your own truth,” might be one reasonable way to define extreme fundamentalism.
On September 22nd two years ago, CNN ran an investigative report titled “Ungodly Discipline.” It takes a look at a history of biblically “justified” abuse in one specific school. It would be easy to walk away from the report and think it's nothing more than a he-said/she-said piece on spanking in schools. It is so much more than that.
It points to the dangers of fundamentalism. These children were not just spanked, they were abused. People who presumably loved them, hurt them. They justified it using the Bible. Fundamentalism frequently requires a devotion which is so blind that its adherents find they are nothing more than pawns in a game whose only purpose is to keep the game going. They are slaves to their own truths.
My heart goes out to each child who has grown up in this church and school. I have little doubt that some of them have escaped it relatively unscathed, but I know without any doubt that many have been wounded deeply.
The school is Fairhaven Baptist Academy which is associated with Fairhaven Independent Baptist Church
and Fairhaven Baptist College in Indiana. Their founder is Pastor Roger Voegtlin. His two adpoted children are among those who were abused and they are speaking out about it.
Pastor Voegtlin's adopted son, Frank Voegtlin, contributed the following introduction to the CNN video for this article. In part, it explains why I believe it is still important to continue to tell their story.
This CNN video was a liberating moment for my sister Catherine and me. Having been adopted at a young age into the home of Roger Voegtlin, the minister of Fairhaven Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church, we were quickly taught that he was the definitive authority of God’s word. After living in his home and being abused by him for many years, we eventually left.
After leaving, we contacted several newspapers, etc. As hard as we tried very few, if anyone, would publicaly agree that our stance against our father was true or right.
This video started a public outcry 20+ years after our initial accusations and has allowed other victims to verify what we have been saying.
by Randy Walker
"You don’t need religion to have morals. If you can’t determine right from wrong, then you lack empathy, not religion."
If you are still reading, I want to offer my perspective on what this quote implies. I feel suited for this infamous task because, while I consider myself spiritual in a broad sense, I am agnostic when it comes to religion and its associated dogma.
First, let’s define the key terms: religion, morals, and empathy. ” Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, defines religion as “belief in a divine or superhuman power or powers to be obeyed and worshipped…” The same source defines morals as “good or right in conduct or character.” Continuing with the same source, empathy is “the projection of one’s own personality into the personality of another in order to understand the person better; ability to share in another’s emotions, thoughts, or feelings.
How do we act “good or right in conduct or character”? I believe that we can presume that if we act in self-destructive ways, we are not only harming ourselves, but we are also harming those who love us, look up to us, or depend on us in various ways. Obviously, committing acts that harm others, whether physically or emotionally, shows a lack of morals; however, broadening that perspective to include self-destructive behavior seems valid and logical. So, if we practice empathy (not mere sympathy, which is a measly recognition of and sorrowful feeling toward another’s plight), we are more likely to behave and conduct ourselves in “good or right” ways. Such behavior stems from positive character traits.
by Randy Walker
Life may be a journey, but it also feels very much like a steep climb at times. Sometimes we fall down, get up, brush ourselves off and continue our climb. There are times when we consider our chosen paths, its obstacles, and the difficulty of the climb. We may look for easier paths, or we might look for ways around obstacles even if it means backtracking around them. Other people can make suggestions or even help us climb, carry us, or otherwise help us along the
Imagine the following scene: you are hiking a mountain trail that leads to the top of the mountain. You are picking your way around obstacles, stopping to rest and absorbing the beauty around you when, suddenly, you are confronted by a group of people who berate you over the path you have chosen. They insist you are on the wrong path, and that you will never reach the top, or they implore you to choose their path because you are headed for destruction. Perhaps you are curious, and you ask them to lead you to their path. “Oh no, you cannot hike our path dressed like that,” they say. “You need to shave and get a haircut before you join us on our path.” Sound familiar? I can’t recall encountering such a group on a literal hike up a mountain, but when used as a metaphor for life journeys, it begins to make sense.
There are plenty of people who eagerly use every opportunity to tell people with different spiritual or worldviews how the same are on the wrong path, and how the only way is their way. Often, self-righteousness triggers indignation toward those people who are different from them. When this happens, informing turns to berating and seeking fault just to make them feel superior to others.