Thinking Out Loud

June 7, 2015

When Interpersonal Relationships Break Down

Six years later, I honestly don’t remember what it was that precipitated this column…

Lately I’ve been keeping track of a number of relationships in my personal life and business life that have been changing. Some of these represent cases where there have been relationship breakdowns, usually precipitated by something external that I did not instigate, but often compounded by my reaction(s). I’m a very principled person, and I’ve never let a great friendship stand in the way of taking a stand for an ethical or moral precept, at least not among people who I expect should know better.

But some of them are relationships which have been in a wonderful state of repair and healing. Enough time clicks by on the magic clock and both parties say, “Who cares?” and pick things up where they left off. In one case, I can no longer remember what the issue was between myself and the woman concerned, though when we do meet up, I hope she gives me some kind of clue. I don’t want to reopen old wounds, but I’m dying to know what the deal was. It must have been a doozie, but with God, forgetfulness — which we regard as a human failing — is actually a divine attribute.

So here’s my five rules for surviving relational breakdowns:

  1. bizarrobelieverjerkNothing should be so severe that it would cause you to move to the sidewalk on the other side of the road if you saw that person coming down the street. Civility is always the higher good.
  2. You should never have relational estrangement with more than five people at a time. To get a sixth person on the list, you have to be willing to call up the person who has been on the list the longest and make peace. You may prefer to use four or three as your magic number. It should never be more than five.
  3. Treat the whole thing as if it’s entirely your own fault, even if it wasn’t to begin with. Sometimes that can be difficult. A pastor I know took great issue with something I sent him in an e-mail a year ago; then just weeks later got up and gave his congregation the same message. I know that I was right, but if I ever happened to run into him, the first thing I would probably say is, “Look, I’m sorry…” In fact, I have nothing to apologize for, but it can be a great opportunity to practice humility and thereby model Christian charity.
  4. Ask yourself if there’s some other factor at play that you haven’t considered. For about 15 years, I knew that a particular individual was angry with me. A mutual friend said, “He’s never going to forgive you.” I always thought it concerned something in our professional relationship, but about a year ago, my mind flashed back to something that happened at a party involving our children. I immediately contacted him to make things right.
  5. An irreparable situation means the relationship can’t be fixed for now. The bible is very clear that as far as it is up to you, you should live at peace with everyone. Elsewhere, we’re told that loving our brothers and sisters means believing the best. I interpret that as believing the best is yet to come.

P.S.: I’m still working some of these out, so don’t expect to see my book on this on the shelves anytime soon!

In heaven above
With the saints that we love
It will be glory

But on earth here below
With the saints that we know
Well… that’s a different story.

 

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June 12, 2010

When a Man’s Home is not His Castle

When you run a business from your home, does the house then become a public place or is it still, at the end of the day, your home?

That’s the question a Human Rights Tribunal was to have been dealing with this week — the case was postponed to June 18 — in the Canadian province of British Columbia, as reported in the Vancouver Sun:

A British Columbia couple is in the “center of a firestorm” after refusing to provide accommodation to a gay couple have shut down their bed and breakfast despite doing major renovations on their home to facilitate the business.

“We’ve been harassed so bad we’re not running (the B&B),” said Lee Molnar, who lives with his wife Susan in the B.C. community of Grand Forks.

Their lawyer Ronald Smith said they are “devastated” but also feel they can’t continue to operate Grand Forks Riverbend Bed and Breakfast for fear they will be asked again “to violate their religious beliefs” by renting to a gay couple.

Smith is representing the couple in a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal case scheduled to begin Wednesday, but it was postponed.

“They’re just a retired couple in Grand Forks who thought they would open their home to guests and here they are in the centre of a firestorm,” Smith said. “They’re a lovely couple. They don’t want to be thought of as discriminating, but they’re Christians who don’t feel they can violate their religious beliefs.”

The human-rights hearing, scheduled for two days this week in Kelowna, B.C., was postponed Wednesday after the lawyer for the gay couple — Shaun Eadie and Brian Thomas — became ill. A new date has yet to be scheduled.

The hearing will rule on whether Eadie and Thomas, who tried to book a room at the B&B on June 18, 2009, were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation when they were turned away.

According to the complaint, Eadie called the B&B, spoke with Susan Molnar and reserved a room for the following two nights. He was told it would be cash only at $80 per night, which Eadie agreed to pay.

She took their names, Shaun and Brian, and the conversation ended.

About five to 10 minutes later, Lee Molnar called back and asked whether the pair were gay.

When Eadie said yes, Molnar replied “Then this is not going to work out,” according to the complaint filed in July 2009 by the couple.

In an earlier application to have the complaint dismissed, Lee Molnar stated “to allow a gay couple to share a bed in my Christian home would violate my Christian beliefs and would cause me and my wife great distress.”

…Read more: Here

What do you think?   Does the presence of the business render the entire house public, or do homeowners still maintain their rights to accept or reject guests for whatever reason?   To put it another way, do you throw away all personal rights and prerogatives to the use of your own residence when a portion of it has commercial application?

To read what others are saying, check out the over 300 comments on this story at CBC News.

Related item: Story/editorial at Lifesite News.

Related item:  The Edge in Boston likens the story to a similar British case.

(Mildly) Related item:  MacDonalds in France releases a gay-targetted television commercial.

February 7, 2010

Move Your Money

Move Your Money.

It’s a simple, three word slogan that expresses the anger a lot of people in the United States feel right now towards their six largest banking organizations.  The result is a movement that started with an editorial from the founder of Huffington Post, is seeing both individuals and branches of municipal and state governments taking their money out of the large banks and “bringing it home ” to locally owned banks and credit unions.  [Check out this 4-minute promotional video on YouTube.]

Toward the end of the week, the campaign was gaining momentum across the U.S., but a check of the Church and Christianity blogs on Alltop showed very, very few Christian bloggers were commenting on this latest development in the ongoing saga of U.S. bank failures and subsequent recession.

That’s a mistake.   While no one believes more strongly than I in the need for  Christian blogs that will maintain a faith focus, when large numbers of people in our society are moved to collective action, we can’t pretend that it’s more important to write about predestination or baptismal regeneration or the parsing of some text in the ESV.   There is a groundswell of major economic activity poised to take place at the grassroots level in the next two to three weeks, and it’s important for Christians to be part of the overall discussion.

It isn’t easy to disentangle yourself from your bank.   There are all sorts of ramifications for automatic payments, debit cards, direct deposits, bonds, investments, home loans, mortgages, etc., that have to be undone at one end, and reestablished at another end.   There are fees and penalties for early withdrawls.  You have to be really, really convicted about your principles to actually do something like this.

While we’re instructed to do nothing out of anger, we’re also supposed to be people of principle, willing to do something out of conviction. It’s easy to comment on this living one nation removed from the action, in a country where both our banks and the system of check and balances that govern them is solid, and in fact no banks failed.    But what if I were living in the United States?

I think the payment of huge bonuses — the absolute squandering of government bailout money — is grossly immoral.   You can protest, you can write letters to the editor, you can post things on your blog; but the best vote a U.S. banking customer has is the vote they make with their savings and checking (Brit./CDN = chequing) accounts.   Not to mention VISA, MasterCard and all the various debit cards.

To “do justice and love mercy” means that every believer has the potential and the mandate to be an agent of doing justice in a corrupt and fallen world.    It’s wrong to do nothing.  It also raises the questions of the banks being used by Churches and Christian charities.   Ask your Church treasurer where the Church’s deposits are held.

So I would move my money, right?   No.   I would have moved it long ago.   I can’t believe it’s taking Americans this long to wake up to the need for collective action.

November 16, 2009

Planned Parenthood Director Resignation Gets Mixed Reaction at Church

This story deserved more than to be buried in a link list of suggested reading a few days from now.   It’s more significant than that.   And if you think you’re already on top of this one, just hang in there for a few paragraphs, or jump to the asterisk  * below for a rather strange twist updating as of November 15th.

Here’s a sample of how the story begins at The Christian Post:

The director of a Planned Parenthood abortion center in Texas has resigned and embraced the pro-life movement after witnessing an abortion through an ultrasound.

(Photo: Coalition for Life) Abby Johnson, former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas

Abby Johnson had worked at the clinic in Bryan/College Station, Texas, for eight years before departing from the facility after her change of heart.

“I left on good terms and simply had a change of heart on this issue,” she told 40 Days for Life, which had been holding prayer and fasting initiatives outside her clinic since fall of 2004. “Over the past few months I had seen a change in motivation regarding the financial impact of abortions and really reached my breaking point after witnessing a particular kind of abortion on an ultrasound.”

According to reports, Johnson had never seen an abortion take place on an ultrasound but happened to be present during one procedure, in which she saw a 13-weeks-old fetus trying to move away from the doctor’s probe

“I just thought, ‘What am I doing?'” she told ABC News. “And then I thought, ‘Never again.'”

Here’s another summary at World Magazine:

In late September, the abortionist at Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas, needed assistance, so he asked the center’s director Abby Johnson to hold the ultrasound probe during a dilation and evacuation abortion. Johnson watched as the 13-week-old unborn child attempted to avoid the probe. “I saw a full profile of the baby from head to foot,” she told me.

Once the abortion procedure began, Johnson saw the child “crumple” under the pressure of the vacuum and then in an instant the child was gone. The reality of seeing the baby moving struck her as she stood in shock and dropped the ultrasound probe, she recalled: “My heart was racing. I kept thinking about my daughter.”

Blogger Stevan Sheets has an embedded 2-minute news report from local station KBTX.

I thought if any blogger would have commentary on this, it would be pro-life proponent La Shawn Barber, but her blog simply mentions the story in passing in a couple of posts, including a 3-minute embedded report from CBN News.

* End of story, right?   Not quite.  Johnson is finding some of the greatest resistance to her decision coming from her home church; as this story on the website Stand Firm reports:

Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood clinic director whose about-face on abortion prompted her to resign her job, says she’s gotten flack for her decision from an unexpected quarter: her own church.

Her Oct. 6 decision to leave Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas – after viewing an ultrasound-guided abortion of a 13-week-old fetus two weeks earlier – made headlines, especially when she ended up volunteering at the Coalition for Life center a few doors away. Her former employer filed a restraining order to silence Mrs. Johnson, but a judge threw out the case on Tuesday.

Now she is facing a different kind of music at her parish, St. Francis Episcopal in nearby College Station, the home of Texas A&M University.

Whereas clergy and parishioners welcomed her as a Planned Parenthood employee, now they are buttonholing her after Sunday services.

“Now that I have taken this stand, some of the people there are not accepting of that,” she told The Washington Times. “People have told me they disagree with my choice. One of the things I’ve been told is that as Episcopalians, we embrace our differences and disagreements. While I agree with that, I am not sure I can go to a place where I don’t feel I am welcome.”

Wow!

Abby, if you’re reading this, I’m sure the whole world is looking a lot different than it did a few weeks ago.   Stand strong on what you know your heart — and God’s Spirit — is showing you and telling you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.    Psalm 139: 13-16

——Read the full stories by clicking the individual links.   The Stand Firm story is reprinted in full and the Washington Times article it refers to is worth reading in full.    An attempt by Planned Parenthood to obtain an injunction silencing Johnson failed as reported in this story in Metro Catholic.

Also, here’s a repeat from a few days ago of a link to seven pictures — be sure to see all seven — in the London Telegraph showing a human fetus (or foetus, as the Brits spell it) developing in the womb.

June 16, 2009

Dealing with Broken Interpersonal Relationships

Filed under: Church, issues, relationships — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:12 pm

Lately I’ve been keeping track of a number of relationships in my personal life and business life that have been changing.   Some of these represent cases where there have been relationship breakdowns, usually precipitated by something external that I did not instigate, but often compounded by my reaction(s).   I’m a very principled person, and I’ve never let a great friendship stand in the way of taking a stand for an ethical or moral precept, at least not among people who I expect should know better.

But some of them are relationships which have been in a wonderful state of repair and healing.   Enough time clicks by on the magic clock and both parties say, “Who cares?” and pick things up where they left off.   In one case, I can no longer remember what the issue was between myself and the woman concerned, though when we do meet up, I hope she gives me some kind of clue.   I don’t want to reopen old wounds, but I’m dying to know what the deal was.   It must have been a doozie, but with God, forgetfulness — which we regard as a human failing — is actually a divine attribute.

So here’s my five rules for surviving relational breakdowns:

  1. bizarrobelieverjerkNothing should be so severe that it would cause you to move to the sidewalk on the other side of the road if you saw that person coming down the street.   Civility is always the higher good.
  2. You should never have relational estrangement with more than five people at a time.    To get a sixth person on the list, you have to be willing to call up the person who has been on the list the longest and make peace.   You may prefer to use four or three as your magic number.   It should never be more than five.
  3. Treat the whole thing as if it’s entirely your own fault, even if it wasn’t to begin with.   Sometimes that can be difficult.   A pastor I know took great issue with something I sent him in an e-mail a year ago; then just weeks later got up and gave his congregation the same message.   I know that I was right, but if I ever happened to run into him, the first thing I would probably say is, “Look, I’m sorry…”    In fact, I have nothing to apologize for, but it can be a great opportunity to practice humility and thereby model Christian charity.
  4. Ask yourself if there’s some other factor at play that you haven’t considered.   For about 15 years, I knew that a particular individual was angry with me.   A mutual friend said, “He’s never going to forgive you.”  I always thought it concerned something in our professional relationship, but about a year ago, my mind flashed back to something that happened at a party involving our children.   I immediately contacted him to make things right.
  5. An irreparable situation means the relationship can’t be fixed for now. The bible is very clear that as far as it is up to you, you should live at peace with everyone.    Elsewhere, we’re told that loving our brothers and sisters means believing the best. I interpret that as believing the best is yet to come.

P.S.: I’m still working some of these out, so don’t expect to see my book on this on the shelves anytime soon!

In heaven above
With the saints that we love
It will be glory

But on earth here below
With the saints that we know
Well… that’s a different story.

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