Political, Material, and Self

“We live in a post-Christian world that puts its eggs into three basic baskets: political, material, and self.”


In my mind today I am try desperately to figure out how to go forward. I read recently about how as humans in a post Christian world we put things into three categories: political, material, and self. What do we really worry about in this modern life? I guess I’m not so modern in my thinking because it is easy to get swept away into the fray of chaos which we live in now more than ever.


I have always been proud to be an American. So proud until I learned of all of the growing pain of this country. We have done a lot of good but we have failed on so many levels. I was never enamoured by political parties of any sort. I tried to figure out which party would be best for all. Which political party would serve its constituents the best? Political parties in my thoughts were to keep the country going and doing the best it can for each of its individuals. I remember George Washington warning of the evils of political parties from my textbooks. We just have such a hard time listening. In my small little mind,  I have always thought the government was there to work for us: the people. I didn’t think it was there to define what a human was; all it was to do was to clarify that we all have inalienable rights and yes those come from the Creator. You are supposed to keep God out of things political. When God is the creator of all things, it seems kind of silly to try to keep him out of it. We did not need government to tell us how or when we should worship. That goes with our inalienable rights given not only by government supposedly but from God. Remember free will? The free will to choose what we believe without fear of being tarred and feathered. God is gracious enough to give us the choice because he knows if those choices are not made with a heart a willing heart then it is a moot point. You do have to believe something or you will fall for anything. I used to love to teach The Bill of Rights. We have these rights: speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition. This is just the first amendment. It did get me in a lot of trouble because my students would then petition the cafeteria and post things around the school. The lunch ladies were not too happy. I had to explain to them that the students were just exercising their right and we understood their hands were tied by the food services they had to use and the rules they had to go by given from the government. The students wanted to get their point across. They did. Right now the political party thorn is wedging deeper and deeper into our American culture. I keep hearing George Washington warning us and then I hear on the news of more and more unrest. I know I’m just a retired teacher with a lot of time on my hands in a wheelchair but if things do not work, can’t there be change? Just this morning I was listening to the news for 5 minutes. That’s all I allow myself. A 5-minute briefing of what’s going on in the world. Something that jumped out at me was in Germany they have a Christian Democratic party. The ideals of this party are based within their faith. You don’t believe in them; you get out. Do the Germans have an oppressive Christian Democratic party that is leeching all of the life out of them? I don’t think so. The ideals of Christianity are constantly attacked. The ideals that we tried to live up to as Christians are very good ideals. We need to live up to them. If we did, it would help save a lot of grief. If everything was created with the widowed and the orphaned in mind and the protection of those most vunerable in our little communities then so much goodness could come out of it. We tend to do this anyway without the legality of the government. We are constantly fighting poverty the best that we can in my little corner of the world. This is what needs to be fought: Poverty. Ignorance. Greed. Change, it’s hard. There are good things out there with our political affiliations but there’s also a lot of bad. It is time that we change. It is time that we say we want a party that is affiliated with our ideals and beliefs. The country cannot be a theocracy but the political parties can be affiliated with such. This is the segue for all of those hurting and wondering what’s going on in our country? How many more people would be apart of a democratic party if it was called the Christian Democratic party? How about a Christian Republican party? I think there will be millions. I am not ready to give up my ideals about faith just like so many others out there. I cannot be a part of taking lives. It states thou shalt not kill in bold black and  white. We have created ways to make money while punishing or subjecting others. This is wrong. Corruption is everywhere. Restorative justice. Redemption. These things sound so familiar. We have to make changes for the greater good of all. Are we a post Christian society? I don’t think so.


The second category is material. Materialism. Consumerism. This is another thing we as humans worry about. Yes we should worry if we have a roof over our head. Yes we should worry if our children are not being educated. I think the material trap is part of the corporate world to keep us running for something to fill a hole that can only be filled by contentment. Contentment. When is enough for you to be content with your life? Is it when you finally move into that exclusive neighborhood? Is it when you finally have designer clothes and purses? Is it when you are driving the newest Cadillac? When do you become content? It’s certainly not after you receive the monthly payments on that Cadillac. It’s a trap. We feel like we need more. Most have enough to be okay. My father would always say we’re not trying to keep up with the Joneses. That’s exactly what everyone is trying to do. Every family cannot be a Roosevelt, Carnegie, or Rockefeller. The sad thing is we try so very hard to keep up. In this effort to keep up, we trade a lot of things that are very important. One of those things we have traded is our family structure. In order for us to have the things that we have we have to sacrifice by allowing someone else to raise our children. This is good if you can afford the best and people who have the best interest in your children. I am very blessed that family always helped with my children. My job was aligned with their schedules. It really was a win-win situation. So many people are not this fortunate. They lean on the institutions we have put in place so they can continue to work so they can buy stuff. As the corporate world boomed, the pay for the workers did not. Herein lies why we are so angry. The wealth generated by these corporations could have done more than they have for the American people they depended upon. I just keep hearing George Bailey telling Mr. Potter, “Is it too much to ask for someone to have two bedrooms and a bathroom with a decent roof over their heads?” That’s all anyone really wants is to be able to provide and take care of their families. We have got to get off of this track of wanting materialistic empty items. We want contentment. The only way my friend to get contentment is to be okay with what you have. To see all the blessings around you and to be glad for those blessings. It’s wanting what you have. What do most Americans want? They want to say the American dream is dead but I don’t think so. We all want to have lives with meaning spent with people we love. Some of the poorest people in the world are the most content. It is so sad that we have missed the mark so badly. There is no big surprise to the ending of each of our lives. We are going to perish from this world. I am with George Bailey. I think that everyone should have the chance to not be cheated and to live a decent life with the people they love around them. Capitalism can work if people reinvest in their workers and their welfare. Care if the bus stops are well lit. Care if the schools are safe. A book I read recently discussed how to go forward if corporations fail. Invest locally: community banks, farmer’s markets, and small businesses. Right now in my little burg we have amazing community support from First Citizens National Bank, Security Bank, Sonic, General Appliance, Independent Radiology, Ford Construction, Forcum Lannom, Lucky Liquor, and so many mom and pop businesses that are doing it very well. A big part of survival will be dependent on local farmers which have been crowded out by commercial farms. Animal husbandry does anyone remember that? Can we put the humaneness back in humanity?


Self. This is the busiest time of year for places to help you improve yourself. From gym memberships to diet fads and courses to help you be more confident and be a better version of yourself, you name it we have it. All of the ads and commercials you see want you to worry about yourself. You know when I worry about myself or what I need, I am a basket case. I don’t think we’re supposed to focus on self. What about me? What do I get out of this? This is such a sad place to be when you worry so much about your own little self. It is called selfishness. Have you ever met a selfish person? Everything is about yes you guessed it, them. They are so busy telling you of all of the ills of their life they don’t realize anything else is going on around them. It’s just their world and you’re just living in it. There have been simple iconic selfish characters in literature but the one that moved to me to this piece of writing was none other than Ebenezer Scrooge. Now there is a selfish guy. I really think old Ebenezer is a good analogy for corporations. Most Americans want just to be able to provide and work for their families welfare. Now that most women are in the workforce, I bet you there are several that would love to be able to live on one salary and be home with their children. This is not all women of course but the choice should be given. Our livelihood should not be dependent upon both parents working. It is not working for our culture. It is tearing apart the fabric of our families. People should not be looked down upon because they choose to stay home and care for their children. Women should be for women in whatever they choose. The rhetoric of the day has women at odds with each other. Remember those ads that tell you to be ultra independent: be self-driven and the master of your own destiny. We all have destinies but I don’t think those align with selfishness as ads will tell you. This huge wheel of existence has a lot of weak spokes. The people in the most powerful places drive it. Are they guiding it in our best interest as humans? Or has the power lulled them to sleep?

Continue reading “Political, Material, and Self”

Charity

Oh my students! Ms. Alley has been suffering from a fever these last few days. Spring fever! I have spent the last two days outside until dark. Monday was chilly but God had provided me with help to visit my favorite plant nursery and then gave me two days of cleaning and planting in my yard. If you know me very well, you understand what a gift of Charity from God this is to me.
To begin our adventure, my Aunt and Uncle Poe drove me to Yorkville, TN to my favorite Mom and Pop plant nursery Z’s Greenhouse. I’ve been buying the most unique and beautiful flowers there for a decade. I didn’t physically make it last year but a sweet garden fairy friend delivered and planted my Z’s treasures. Z’s ower, Debbie, started this little side business when hard times hit her home. One of my best friends mentioned would I consider buying plants from Z’s to help them out. I did and have been every year for 10 years. Debbie and Jimmy are some of the most charitable souls I know. I never left there without an extra plant or item just because they love me. Charity is so beautiful and such an important virtue. If you live in our little corner of West Tennessee, please consider visiting Z’s and buying a plant or two. She has had to scale back this season because of her health and her sweet husband is fighting cancer. Every day is a gift from God. You just can’t out give God, but it never hurts to try.
Gardening has always been a love of mine. Not being able to get down and dirty gardening has been so hard for me. My 73 year old newlywed Aunt Linda knows that. She now lives four hours away. She visits maybe once a month but knew she would not be coming back to see me for three months. She has spent enough seasons with me to know that rolling in my yard and praying on my deck amid flowers fills my soul and makes me so happy. She and her 85 year old husband decided this trip they were going to set me up with flowers to help me stay mentally healthy until she could come back in July. What charitable hearts these two love birds have. 🙂
Students have you guessed today’s virtue? Come on back row! That’s right! Charity. Christian charity is not just giving goods; it’s giving of yourself. It’s giving from your heart. It’s part of the first commandment: Love your God with all of your heart, mind, and soul. The second commandment is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. When you love others like this you are spreading God’s love. Where in your life can you show charity? It could be in small ways. Those small acts melt the hardest of hearts. It makes me laugh to remember as a child I would pick wildflowers or weeds and take them to a neighbor who was wheelchair bound. That’s right front row, irony and foreshadowing! I would walk up to her front door before I started an adventure with a hand full of weedy flowers. I would knock and she would roll to the door. She took the flowers every time with such amazement and gratitude. She would then put them in a vase, put them on top of her tv in the picture window so I could see them, and enjoy them as if I had given her a bouquet of expensive, exotic flowers. That’s charity. I had no clue God was using me but he definitely used Mrs. Opal to encourage my heart.  Students it happens that way. God uses us for the good if we let Him. Try to find some small way this Lent to serve others. Embrace the big charitable heart God gave you and use it.
Sal the Charitable Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley
Z’s Greenhouse and Nursery
TN-188, Yorkville, TN
Search Z’s Greenhouse on Facebook
Quotes of the day:
We are constituted so that simple acts of kindness, such as giving to charity or expressing gratitude, have a positive effect on our long-term moods. The key to the happy life, it seems, is the good life: a life with sustained relationships, challenging work, and connections to community.
Paul Bloom
Men lose all the material things they leave behind them in this world, but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give. For these, they will receive from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve.
Saint Francis of Assisi
Charity is a supreme virtue, and the great channel through which the mercy of God is passed onto mankind.
Conrad Hilton
True charity is the desire to be useful to others with no thought of recompense.
Emmanuel Swedenborg
 The world calls for, and expects from us, simplicity of life, the spirit of prayer, charity towards all, especially towards the lowly and the poor, obedience and humility, detachment, and self-sacrifice. Without this mark of holiness, our word will have difficulty in touching the heart of modern man.
Pope Paul VI