Our Temple

studSo, while this may have started as a note to my sons, I think it is a message that everyone can take away something from.  Nothing drives the need to focus on health like watching someone else lose theirs.  Our bodies are the only tool we have to empirically bring our purpose for being on this planet to life.  Scripture tells us that our bodies are temples…except not as something to worship, like so many do in this body-conscious world we live in, but because our bodies hold our spirit, our soul.  It is the greatest part of what makes us human.  For those of us who were born with a body that is in tact, functioning, and whole, it is our responsibility to take care of it to the best of our ability.  When I think of how much more information is available today than when I was a child, it is almost mind-boggling to me to see how much more unhealthy we are.  We have developed a keen ability to rationalize away our poor choices.  We have  taken short-cuts to avoid changing our life style by using quick fixes, focusing on short-term results, and popping pills to cover symptoms, or achieve weight loss, or bigger muscles or just to defy the aging process.

We have a health care system that is broken.  We can’t fix health by focusing just on disease.  We have to ask better questions about what are the root causes of ill-health.  Then, we have to be willing to hear the answers.  You would be surprised how many people don’t really want to hear the answer to what they need to do to be healthy.  I have watched many people turn away because the thought of actually having to change their lifestyle is just too daunting.  I hear phrases, like “I can’t sign up for this because my insurance won’t cover it.”, “well that’s just my genetics”, or “it costs too much to be healthy”  and it literally makes my blood boil.  I would like to say to them, “if your car broke down would you pay to fix it?”  “what good is saving for retirement if you’re dead?’  “do you really think your insurance company gives a crap about doing what’s best for you?” and I usually don’t, because I know that they are just not ready to accept the truth yet.   Why is it that people find it so hard to take responsibility for their health?  Is the answer more frightening than the disease? Please, if you think it comes down to philosophy…that isn’t the problem.  I hear the same frustration from all different kinds of doctors all with different philosophies.  We do not see our bodies as temples.  If we did, we would avoid all packaged, GMO altered, trans-fat- to empty calorie fake foods (for weight loss).  We would make the necessary changes to our priorities, that put our bodies ahead of recreational purchases (your car should not cost more than the food you’re willing to put in your body).  We should not subsidize the foods that we should avoid, rather, we should subsidize the foods that our bodies need to thrive.  We have given in to what is quick and what feeds that pleasure part of the brain to the point that we disregard what we may know to be true…that what we’re eating just isn’t good for us.

To start, I would say nature made is best…which does not include genetically altered foods, or livestock that isn’t raised humanely and is full of antibiotics.  Fruits, vegetables and lean meats…avoiding grains which are inflammatory foods (and genetically altered).  Move every day, get your heart rate up and drink a lot of water.  Change your life-style to avoid stress, which may mean living simpler lives, but I guarantee you will sleep better, which is also a necessary part of health.  Make taking care of you body, mind and spirit the top priority of your life.  It will make you better able to share your unique gifts to the world.

DOMA

rainbowThis one is hard for me.  Not because I have trouble voicing my opinion…but because this issue is so rooted in fear and hatred of the gay community.  Strip away all the rhetoric and what is left is fear at its weakest and hatred at its strongest, neither of which is an acceptable motivation in my book.  Scripture teaches that the opposite of love is fear, so that is where I stand first and foremost.  Regardless of where anyone of you stand on the issue at this moment, which is a freedom richly fought for and celebrated in this country, level heads must prevail…which is easier said than done.  I know that.   I’m not the one fighting for my self-respect.  What I do know, is that I have many dear and beautiful friends who are gay whom I see as naturally no different from any of the other dear and beautiful heterosexual friends I have.   Sexual orientation isn’t something I even recognize so by extension regarding love, marriage and children I see no difference.  Period.   Except I know that in society there is one.  I know social media is rife with profile picture changes and scripture quotations making a clear unwavering stand for their positions on the issue.  So how do we come together?  We talk, we discuss, we challenge old judgments and work together, and for my part as a Christian…work together as the body of Christ.

When I hear people quote Scripture as an indictment against homosexuality, I wince.  Most often because the words are taken literally out of history and out of context.  For example, I did question someone when they quoted the first chapter of Romans to me about the literal word of God, but balked when I challenged them on their view on gun control.  Jesus did tell us to love our enemies and turn our swords into plowshares after all.  I really wasn’t trying to be a smart ass…really I wasn’t.  I did want to support the notion that it is dangerous when you use scripture to justify a bias literally on one issue and disregard it in the next.  I also challenge all of you who use Romans 1:24-32 to continue reading to the next chapter where Paul admonishes people for judging…you will be judged by the same measure with which you judge others.  Never mind that Paul in the first chapter was talking about the state of Rome under Nero, after the edict of Claudius expelled all Jews and converted Jews out of Rome…that he feared for converted Gentiles who lived there that they were falling into old pagan practices.  Never mind that the wickedness that Paul lays out in verses 29-31 could describe any one of us…so to heap all those horrible qualities on just gay people is ridiculous…period.  I also believe that to take Jesus words in Matthew as an indictment against gay people is just short of blasphemy… yeah, I said it.  Jesus was being tested by the pharisees about divorce as a means to find something to use against him, as they often did.  Jesus spoke to the hardness of the people themselves as a reason for divorce.  He went on to make sacred a union that in his time was often unfair to women, who had no voice, were considered chattel, and who could be dismissed by her husband if the marriage was unsatisfactory.  To use the beauty of a verse that celebrates love into a tool that indicts gay people renders its message void, especially since the verses that follow have Jesus blessing the children,  entering the kingdom of God by loving God and your neighbor as yourself and concluding with how hard it is for a rich man to get into heaven.  It’s curious how few take the verse “Go and sell all you have and follow me” literally…not that I would either, I’m just saying.

Jesus spent his whole ministry challenging the notion that we get to pick and choose who we love, and who we should treat with respect.  He spent his time with those whom society rejected and he often berated those that held positions of esteem…because it is wrong to use position and power to keep others out.  He is the corner-stone whom the builders rejected.  He championed our eternal destiny by bearing our flaws.  I can’t help but think, as Easter our most sacred day comes near, that we do him a dishonor when we focus more on judgement than we do championing love.  Love, as I’ve stated before is so much bigger and more powerful than our limited comprehension of it.  When it comes right down to it as Paul goes on to say in Romans…”There will be joy, honor and peace for everyone who does good…there is no partiality with God.”

Leadership

The events of this week challenged me to revisit some of the primary qualities of leadership that I studied for my Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership at St. Catherine’s University.  At the time, I remember thinking how simple these qualities were and how perhaps unnecessary it was to pay all this money for an actual degree that rests on a lot of simple common sense.  But after all these years, I’ve changed my tune.  I’ve discovered that common sense isn’t necessarily inherent when it comes to those in positions of leadership, whether it be from the top or down to the bottom of small town America.  The thing that struck me most this past week, is the seamless ability for leaders to pass the buck when faced with a crisis.  When an issue exists that challenges the function of a group, it is a primary function of the leader to address any issue with honesty and integrity.  To say, “It’s not my fault”, or “they just wouldn’t listen to me”, or “they aren’t good enough to be here”, or to simply point the finger in some other direction away from themselves isn’t an examples of acting with integrity or honesty.  It is also a primary function of any leader to assess what action is essential for the success of the entire group, and not just themselves…even if it means being honest about a mistake made and accepting the consequences with integrity, be it the leader themselves or a member of the group.  The kind of behavior that speaks so much louder than rhetoric, is embracing every opportunity to learn with humility and courage.  The need to be right, or infallible often takes over the need to be accountable, embrace our imperfections  and learn from the lessons that life brings.

I don’t believe that leadership is an innate quality, it is developed over time in the simplest of ways…often facilitated by facing difficult challenges at the hands of those whose desire it is to overpower, rather than empower.  I’ve tried to explain that to my sons after they’ve suffered the wrath of the hierarchy of power in school…they call them “douche-bags” I just call them bullies, that their influence won’t last beyond  high school.   Maturity brings clarity.   I’ve told them if I were able to go back in time with a video-tape of what the “douche-bags” of my time looked like 30 years later and show my young self that this is why you don’t need to cry after being left out of the next big party, I wouldn’t have given them so much power to second guess myself.  Making the choice not to drink and behave like a “skank” (also my son’s words) was the best choice in the long run for me.  Time has a way of pulling back the curtain and exposing the true nature of those we handed our power; they really aren’t wizards after all.  And while I may not have made those choices altogether because of my great leadership skills, I did have people in my life who gave me support for the choices I needed to make for me.  More importantly, I learned to choose behavior that matched my belief system, whether or not I got support from the rank and file.  Standing up for your beliefs is always hard, but it does get easier the more you do it

I wish there were more examples of the kind of men and women whose actions are void of condemnation but ripe with acceptance and high regard, who are honest and have courage enough to be imperfect and accept the necessary consequences, who don’t hide behind the spin of words that paint false perceptions of perfection, who have the foresight to lead us to a better place even though it may be difficult and most importantly, a leader with such commitment and belief in their mission that giving up in the face of adversity will never even be a remote possibility.  I don’t care if it is the pope, or a president or the captain of a basketball team.  The kind of qualities I just mentioned apply in any situation.  I know there are plenty of examples of great leaders out there, I just want them to pushed to the forefront so they can expose how poorly those in positions of power are really doing when it comes to leadership.  So, this week…share on your social media outlets, those great leaders who have influenced you in your life, whether they be Julian of Norwich, a favorite of mine, Martin Luther King,  Einstein, or even a great coach.  Show the world that there are good and true leaders in the world, whose honesty and integrity make them shine!