28 January 2019

Winter Workout

I had to try the steep entrance twice,
Battling snow-covered ice
With my front-wheel drive Corolla.
Nevertheless, I arrived five minutes early
So I played Hearts with obliging robots
While outside, flurries softened 
The sharp, icy edges of the world
And the full moon's light 
(A light not even its own)
Overwhelmed the harshbright fluorescent bulbs 
Humming patiently above the empty parking lot.

Fifteen minutes later, sweat dripped off the tip of my nose
As I army-crawled my mass across artificial turf,
Feet on plastic sliders and elbows protected by a foam mat.

Thirty minutes after that, my lungs were aflame,
My heartmuscle flexed frantically
As my artificial rower 
Skimmed the surface of a digital pond
And I fought to focus my mind
On maintaining my average watts.

Finally, after one last stretch
Of warm, fibertorn muscles, I stumbled
Once more unto the icy breach,
Pausing in the parking lot
To enjoy the Arctic blast
That had I had hurried through
Only an hour before.

Bodyheat and sweatvapor drifted from me
In visible foggy waves,
Carrying my thermal energy beyond,
Dissipating my warmth
Into the insatiable cold of the wintry morning.

Five more minutes in that wind,
And I would begin to shiver.
Five more hours in it, dressed as I was,
And I would surely die.

But this cold is warm
To most of the universe.
Even in the dead of winter,
Even if I were to freeze solid
In this lovely snow-coated parking lot,
I'd still be a toasty 273 degrees Kelvin.

All the heat in my body -- all the heat 
From all the suns in existence --
Would hardly make a dent
In Absolute Zero.

As I pondered all this, 
A quarter of a million miles off,
The moon continued her task:
Reflecting the radiance 
Of distant nuclear explosions
Onto the pristine snow
That I had to disrupt, defile
To get to my Corolla.

08 January 2019

Social Justice in Amos 5

About a year ago, the leadership of our church wanted to join a coalition of churches that work toward social justice  in our city. The results were not pretty. When the decision was announced, some folks left the church. Others essentially threatened to. The most vocal opponents refused to even hear from the organization -- they heard "social justice" and went into full-on rage mode. In the end, the elders decided to value peace within the church over their desire to make a practical, Christlike difference in the community.

This isn’t to say the elders’ plan was flawless. The national organization affiliated with this local justice coalition sometimes treats the Bible as a political football rather than the inspired word of God. Other churches within the coalition  have been pressured to place members in same-sex relationships into positions of leadership, which is something our church has convictions against. Our elders should have asked the congregation what they thought before moving forward so quickly.

Nonetheless, there is much to be said for pursuing a fair, equitable society through political action. In Amos 5, economic injustice is one of God’s chief complaints against his people:
7 There are those who turn justice into bitterness
   and cast righteousness to the ground.
8 He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
    who turns midnight into dawn
    and darkens day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
    and pours them out over the face of the land—
    the Lord is his name.
9 With a blinding flash he destroys the stronghold
    and brings the fortified city to ruin.
10 There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court
    and detest the one who tells the truth...
14 Seek good, not evil,
    that you may live.
Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you,
    just as you say he is.
15 Hate evil, love good;
    maintain justice in the courts.
Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy
    on the remnant of Joseph.
God cares about how we treat those who cannot defend themselves. He cares when humans made in His image are victimized and taken advantage of. And his wrath in this case falls on both individuals and the nation as a whole. This should cause American Christians to sober and consider what our society is doing to care for the needy, disadvantaged, and helpless in our midst and at our borders.

Unfortunately, I think the Republican party (the political party that "my" people have long affiliated themselves with) has a history of treating the nation like a piggy bank to be raided for the profit of those who are already wealthy. I fear they -- we -- will soon have a great deal of justified regret over these actions. May God have mercy on us all -- and may we repent soon.