Thursday, August 30, 2018

Sunny

About a year ago I wrote about losing my beloved dog Stella.  I was only 45 days without a dog and there was Sunny.  She's an affectionate, energetic rescue.  I think rescues seem to spend their lives showing their gratitude for giving them a home. We've had our challenges but the great thing about Sunny is that she belongs to both of us. Before, my husband and I had "your dog" and " my dog."  But Sunny is ours. She likes to sit in the sunshine too.


Sunny

She steals the ice cubes from the orchids, 
denudes the houseplants of their greenery,
digs holes to China, and eats the birdseed.

She falls off the couch in a cacophony of barking
to warn us of every imagined or real danger and threat
whether human, beast or machine.

She’s a kleptomaniac with a stash under the beds,
a thief of mail and socks and toys,  
a supreme counter-surfer, a beggar to the core.

Her silky soft peanut-butter hair 
and dogged persistence melts our hearts 
through weary ears and our wilting resolve.

She moves stealthily upon the love seat
in her quest to envelope us in her affection,
to come between us and divide us in her favor

with a gentle paw on the arm,
an unblinking stare-down of adoration,
a nudge of devotion too much to resist.

Sunny, of unknown origin, history and breed,
the attention-hyperactivity-deficit of dogs, 
the unity in our diversity. 

We rescued her from obscurity,
from those who would ignore her canine quirks,
her cinnamon beauty, her animal love.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

When You Have Power Over Other People's Time


It started so innocently, so spontaneously. I am being trolled and harassed for a comment on Facebook. Oh, yes, this has happened many times with so-called “friends”, so I put a stop to all that. But this time, for the first time, I commented on a national post. I never do because I think who will read it and who will care?  Apparently many people care about the opinion of total strangers and have the time to harass mercilessly, all day, maybe for two or three days.

Was what I wrote offensive, political, critical—nope.  I was praising my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Horrible, right? How dare I! There was a clip from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. I LOVE Stephen Colbert and watch him every night. I had no problem with the clip or the joke, but it was about Cleveland.  I’ve noticed that Colbert often uses Cleveland in his jokes as somewhere you’d never want to go. I get it, but the river burned about 50 years ago so it’s an old joke.  

I was naive enough to think, “Oh, what the heck, I’ll write something positive about Cleveland.” So I wrote that even though I love Colbert, here are some facts about Cleveland: The world class orchestra and museums, beautiful parks and amazing restaurants and the theater district that is second only to New York City.  

Here are some of the things I was accused of: I have no sense of humor, can’t take a joke, I need to get over it, I”m ridiculous and, here’s the best one: Another Clevelander says he’s lived in Cleveland longer than me so what do I know?  So I asked how he knew how old I was, and he’d gone on my page and looked at photos of me! Creepy!  Then I got unsolicited advice about changing my settings, (which I have done). Another stranger even said I look good for my age, so at least something pleasant came out of this huge waste of time. 

Then I was challenged and made fun of for saying we had the largest theater district after NYC. I have to say I got a lot of support on this one. A whole crowd of people validated my claim.  This is going on and on, people!  Whenever I went on Facebook I was praying there were no more related comments to read, but they continued and my original comment has 259 reactions so far.


As the days went on more and more people defended how wonderful our city is. Several people had visited and mentioned how impressed they were. I mean, this was a major issue! With one comment I somehow have gained access to the time and concerns of complete strangers. It’s amazing!  The person who said I was ridiculous required a response from me: “I’m getting trolled for saying something nice about my city. Now THAT’s ridiculous!”

Friday, August 10, 2018

Breaking Babies

You are breaking them, those children in cages
with their aluminum foil blankets in their obscene days.

You have damaged innocent psyches 
in your static apathy and campaign promises.

Your evangelical leaders now preach the Bad News
as if Jesus would not let the children come to Him.

They are under the same stars as you,
lights of the future, those crying orphans.

You can turn away and amuse yourselves
with the scandal of the day but they will

always be with you, somewhere in your brain,
God is watching, waiting for your pro-life response.

Their brown eyes see all, know all, in the
cruel world you’ve left to them, irreversible

memories, irretrievable childhoods, mothers
with no children, fathers with no family,

but your accomplishment is great, your campaign
complete, your voters atwitter with relief

that those brown children will not sully our
great country with their love, abilities, joy, talents

and all that you have taken from them. 


Monday, July 16, 2018

A Sunday in 2018

 A Sunday in 2018


I love read to read and be informed. I look forward to an occasionally idle Sunday when I have time to read the two substantial newspapers that appear in my mailbox. I am passionate about the world my young grandchildren will inherit someday. Often my brain feels full of information after several hours of reading, but today it was more than that. It was full of despair.  I had to stop reading, go into the bathroom, shut the door and cry. Actual weeping for our country. Nothing in the news was making America great again, just more cruel, more hateful, more discriminatory.

The Supreme Court nominee will make it harder for people to have access to voting if he has his way, as if we were in the pre-Civil Rights era. Unions, which I supported and greatly benefitted from may become decimated; poor working conditions and inequity in pay will prevail once again. A story about the WWII Japanese internment camps in America tells of families taken from their homes out of irrational fear. The author reminds us not to repeat history—but we already are. Thousands of children remain separated from their parents at the southern border.  Imagine the damage being done to their psyches—all brought on by a party that claims to be pro-family and pro-life.  I read that no hugging is allowed in these child cages. An older sister could not comfort her three year-old brother. I cried. 

A friend tells me that her Japanese-American daughter-in-law and small grandson were harassed this week and called “F***king Chinks” at a Cleveland Indians baseball game. 

In the UK our president is being protested and made fun of everywhere he goes. This is not normal. It is not normal or safe for our country for him to constantly be alienating and insulting our allies around the world. But he wonders why he’s not welcome. 

On Facebook a distant relative cannot tolerate my views and harasses me mercilessly on my own post and timeline until I delete the whole thing and him as well.  I accept that he has different views than I do, but he cannot tolerate mine.  All of this is in my consciousness within two days. Does anyone else become overwhelmed?


After my tears over an America that I don’t recognize any longer I search for something uplifting and find a review of a documentary about Fred Rogers that is doing exceptionally well in the theaters. It says that people still want to see good. Yes, if we all were like Mr. Rogers and practiced kindness, tolerance and understanding our country would be a much different place, and I wouldn’t be crying at the news

Thursday, June 28, 2018

My Dear Friend

My dear friend,  

After decades of an easy and loving friendship we find ourselves on opposite sides politically.  You recently expressed an opinion that you know I disagree with and I said very little in fear of it coming between us. I have strong opinions with cogent reasons too, but I’m not sure you want to hear them. My beliefs do not come from a radio pundit, a political news channel or any particular columnist, but from experiences that slowly changed my views without me even being aware of it. It was a natural evolution for me, based on my life and my faith, so the conundrum is that we are both Christians yet see things so differently.

My own experience of struggling financially for a time (even though I went to college and had done all the personally responsible things), and teaching poor children for 20 years in a diverse district gave me a new perspective. The adults I now tutor often had no choice about leaving high school but were forced to to care for younger siblings or to get jobs. There is so much judgment of those whose lives we know nothing about. The richest country in the world should help their own, but the current administration seems determined to take every good thing away from us: public schools, the EPA (which has greatly improved our lives and health for decades), arts funding, women’s health care, children’s lunch and after-school programs, being irresponsible stewards of God’s creation by allowing pollution to take over again to name a few. They want to reduce food assistance even though it is a minuscule part of the budget. Ohio wants to defund the Positive Education Program for emotionally disturbed youth, to say nothing of defunding Planned Parenthood whose services prevent unwanted pregnancies. I could go on and on.

I am sincerely curious about how Christians reconcile these types of efforts with the teachings of Jesus. Breaking up immigrant families, putting the arguable right to own an assault rifle over the safety of American schoolchildren, unnecessarily raising rent on the poor, are all contrary to repeated commands of Jesus who showed us how to feed and care for the poor without question, to live peacefully and turn the other cheek.  He told us not to worry about tomorrow, that all people are our neighbors which includes Muslims, immigrants and the poor. And of course, to love our enemies. The words of politicians and the Second Amendment have superseded the words of Jesus.

You say you need guns because you fear “they” are coming for you. I don’t even know what that means. “Fear not,” is the most repeated command in the Bible, supposedly 365 times, one for every day. The commandment to not kill I take literally and don’t think there are exceptions. I do not find the promotion of guns pro-life. Just the opposite. “Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body and not the soul.” Mt 10:28. 

I do not oppose a conservative viewpoint but there is one news station that has done great damage to our country. Everyone I know who watches that station seems to live in fear and believe in conspiracies that never materialize.  I saw it happen to my own parents. They went from being happy and content to constantly worrying and even obsessing about things they heard on television.  Of course, none of their fears were realized. It was sad to me to see that change in them. They had the station on most of the day so I was exposed to it.  I heard daily ranting and vicious name-calling of Democrats. Don’t tell me that doesn’t have a divisive effect on people. There may be liberal viewpoints on other stations but I have never heard the ugly vitriol that I’ve heard on that station.

The thought of abortion repulses me, but I also do not judge those who feel they need one. I do not know their circumstances and believe judgement is left to God. There is great hypocrisy in wanting babies to be born, but not cared for after birth. When we remove help for those children, defund public school resources, food programs and the like we are just pro-birth, not pro-life. I have never walked in the shoes of a gay or transgender person so I do not have the right to tell them how to live their lives or what their human needs should be. It is only when we dehumanize people that we insist on our preferences over their civil and human rights.  

One of the most divisive ideas is that this has always been a White Christian country and what we saw on 1960’s television was the “way it’s always been.” Think Mayberry. But that is a false image. That was before the civil rights movement when black people were segregated in every way in this society,  when Japanese were interned, when what we saw on TV did not reflect reality for many Americans in any way.  Life wasn’t great for everyone in decades past so there is nothing idyllic to go back to.  Even though I attempt to live my life by Christian principles I do not believe this is a Christian country. It began as a Native American country and for a long time everyone was welcome here. Building a wall to keep people out and travel bans are in direct opposition to the freedom America stands for.  I have the right to worship as I want in America, but so does everyone else. 

Liberal and liberty share the same root word. It is defined as: marked by generosity, broad-minded, open to new opinions, and believes in political change. I am not ashamed of that and no one has convinced me of any of these views except living the life that God gave me and coming to know people unlike myself. There cannot possibly one right way to live among the billions of people on this planet. If God is the Creator then He made all of us.

So maybe we should find our common ground and stick to that.  All over this country relationships are strained by the deep divisions that we are exposed to 24 hours a day. Let’s not be one of them.







Sunday, June 17, 2018

Father's Day 2018

Dad

I want to touch your hands again.
I memorized the shape of every finger;
the ones that held, fixed, carried, loved.

The hands I clutched on your last walk on this earth
after sixty years of steps
across the living room and back.

Then for two days we circled, spoke in your ear,
held those hands, wept, questioned,
and we were one—covered in your final gift.

You know the glory now, Dad,
the reward for always choosing love,
and we are bereft here 

on the surface of this incendiary planet 
to wait
and wonder.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Depression and Suicide

Last week two prominent, widely admired, successful people committed suicide.  I heard a lot of misconceptions from people who most likely have never been there. The first thing you think is why anyone with money and fame would do such a thing, but money and fame have nothing to do with what is happening in the depressed person's mind. It's a physical imbalance. It is not rational.

Many years ago I was diagnosed with clinical depression (and two other temporary mental illnesses) that occurred for a very specific reason in my life.  I had counseling and medication. I got well and it is not a chronic problem for me.  I can't really imagine living through it again or what it would be like to battle this disease all of my life. Some people do and this is why they cannot take it any more.
  
Depression is not sadness or discouragement—it is utter hopelessness. It is not feeling anything, not caring about anything, it is like already being dead. When you are hopeless and cannot feel human feelings your life does not matter to you and you cannot imagine that it ever will.  This, of course, is not true. It is not rational thinking. 

You will hear things like - remember how many people love you, think about your children, it will get better. The problem with those thoughts is that they involve emotions and reasoning and when you are clinically depressed you cannot understand those thoughts and cannot feel hope in them. If you've never felt complete hopelessness it is almost impossible to comprehend.  

I did not seriously contemplate suicide. I do remember wanting to get away from myself, but there was no way to do that.  I hated myself. I hated being so weak, so sick, for worrying the people who loved me and I would have done almost anything to end that experience. I thought about how everyone would be better off without me, which is pretty close to life-ending thinking. In my mind I knew hope existed but I could not feel it or sense any light at the end of the tunnel. That's exactly why it's depression.

So when you wonder how someone could do such a thing to themselves or to their family remember that at the moment of their decision it didn't matter at all. 


Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Volume of Our  Incongruity 
by Diane Vogel Ferri

Poetry Chapbook  $14.99

PREORDER SHIPS SEPTEMBER 21, 2018

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Diane Vogel Ferri taught children with special needs for over thirty years. Her poems can be found in many journals including Plainsongs, Rockford Review, Poet Lore and Rubbertop Review. Diane has essays published by Scene Magazine, Cleveland Christmas Memories, and by Cleveland State University among others. She is the author of a poetry chapbook, Liquid Rubies and a novel, The Desire Path. She is a founding member of Literary Cleveland and a tutor at Seeds of Literacy.

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Reviews for The Volume of Our Incongruity:
A certain irresistible sincerity marks these poems. They invite us into sacred space, where grace and unapologetic longing reside and rule, where the singular voice we hear is so quiet and prayerful we must lean in to listen. The Volume of Our Incongruity, however, is more than a collection of poems. It’s a narrative, the story of a granddaughter, now recollected as one of eight “graphite markings on [a] basement two-by-four;” a wife, whose “love is a tundra, vast and white;” a mother, a “thirsty woman drinking every last drop of the sea.”   In language that is clear and deceptively simple, Diane Ferri reaches into a life lived deeply and pulls out truth.
–Lou Suarez, author of Ask and Traveler

In The Volume of Our IncongruityDiane Ferri chronicles life-shaping moments by alternately slowing down the kind of speeding landscapes seen from a station wagon window, and zooming in to examine life’s discrepancies up close and in person. These are poems for our times, stirring a compelling swirl where the past intersects with the present, where hope for the future can spring from a single sonogram.
 –Gail Bellamy, author, poet and Cleveland Heights poet laureate, 2009 and 2010

These intimate, powerful poems about family, love, and memory settle on your skin and won’t wash off. Diane Ferri’s voice is every woman’s, grappling with being a wife, mother and individual. In this vividly rendered collection, the specific details of a life become something wondrous.

–Lee Chilcote, author of The Shape of Home

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

I Remember You

There is a cemetery nearby where many of my paternal relatives rest. Four great-grandparents, three great-aunts, and my own grandparents are in one family area. My mother and father are in another place in the same cemetery.  I was close to my grandparents because they lived five houses away on my street as I grew up. I could walk to see them any time I wanted. I would bring my grandmother flowers and we'd play board games together.  I was also close to my great-aunt Irene. She never married and lived a simple, and I thought, lonely life. My mom and dad took very good care of her in her old age and she was a part of all of our family gatherings. She was 87 when I had my first child and I gave my daughter the middle name Irene so she would be remembered. 

Cemeteries are not fun. They make you think about uncomfortable truths. Many people have nothing to do with cemeteries because they say their loved ones are not there. But, in a way I disagree. When you go to the grave of a loved one you can feel their presence. Even though you may think of them frequently you are solely focused on their memory as you gaze at their names. I like to think that when I am there they feel a surge of love wherever they are.  It's a time to talk to them, catch them up on earthly matters, and once again, tell them how much you miss them. There are always tears, but it feels important for me to do. 

When I go to the Vogel plot of my ancestors I always say "I remember you." I say this because no one else will remember them.  Why would you think of them when you don't even know where their plots are?  The rest of my cousins were not close to my grandparents and they live in far away. My grandmother and grandfather have been gone since 1970 and 1972 respectively. Who thinks of them now that my dad and his sister are gone?  I do. 

I am still overcome with sadness to think that all of my many aunts and uncles and even a few cousins are now gone from this earth.  My mother was the last of her generation in our family when she died in 2016. So now my cousins and I are the matriarchs and patriarchs. Something you never imagine. It's a completely unique part of life when all those before you are gone. Life takes on a different meaning when you see another generation coming into the family as I do with my three grandchildren and my cousin's grandchildren. 

I recently read a novel that took place in post-war Germany. The main character visited a cemetery and inquired why graves were being dug up. She was told that they are dug up and replaced every thirty years because after thirty years no one remembers them. That's not particularly true these days, but it was a shocking reminder of the brevity of life. 

I recall my parents devotedly caring for the Vogel gravesites and I will do the same as long as I am able. No one else will. Every time I visit I will say, "I remember you" to each one there who lived and breathed and made it possible for me to be alive.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

A Friendship Lost

Have you ever lost a friend without knowing why?  The kind of friend you have everything in common with, the kind of friend who chose you to stand next to her as she married. A friend whose children were your children’s friends and you went on vacation together, made music with, a friend you loved and admired.

Then suddenly one day there was no more communication. No return calls, no accepted invitations, no more best friend for your daughter. Life was changing for both of you, but that shouldn’t have precluded a friendship, in fact, the situations created one more thing in common. You spend years in occasional mental and emotional confusion.

Many years later you see her at a movie theater and exchange a few pleasantries . You discover she lives only minutes from you, and that is a further injury to your heart. But it is clear nothing has changed. You send a letter asking for an explanation, but there is no reply. You must eventually let it go. But the thing is, you never really do. Years pass and it doesn’t come into your consciousness, but all of a sudden something will remind you of the mystery you will never solve. Then the relentless questions begin again, but there is no one to ask. You eliminate so many possibilities, but never come up with a possibility. 

Another decade goes by and with no apparent provocation one night you awaken with her on your mind. You have been on Facebook for ages but never thought to look her up. You are sure she is not the type to be on social media, but there she is. You send a message and she accepts the request, but again, does not reply.

Why are some things so impossible to let go, to accept? You only want to know the reason. What unforgivable thing did you do? You don’t really need any more friendships, but you needed hers.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Being Broke



Many years ago I was in a marriage that was an emotional and financial disaster. I had done all the responsible things in life. I went to college and became a teacher. I took care of my two young children and a large run-down house in a pleasant neighborhood.  We were very active in our church and had many friends. We looked like your average suburban family. But I couldn’t support four people and a house on a teacher’s salary alone. We were deeply in debt and our house in disrepair. I was using a second mortgage to buy groceries and ironically, to pay the mortgage. The years of disappointment and stress finally ended in divorce—something I never dreamed would happen to me.  

I was raised in the middle class, but now I suddenly had a taste of what it must be like to be poor. I learned that anything that could happen could happen to me. No one is immune to one bad decision changing the course of life. I was certain I would be better off on my own and I would have been, but while going through the agony of divorce my teaching job was reduced to half time with no medical insurance. I imagined living in my parents’ basement with two kids, a dog and a canary.

As hard as I tried to hide my struggles many people from my church family offered to pay a month’s mortgage or help in other ways. I turned them all down. I felt ashamed of my situation even though I had done nothing to cause it. It felt humiliating to accept help.


One day my children and I were in the living room after school and the doorbell rang. The delivery person at the door was holding a large beautiful plant—a peace lily.  I brought it in and opened the card. There was no signature, but ten one-hundred dollar bills floated out onto the floor. A miracle and an enormous amount of money at that time.  I never found out who sent this anonymous gift, but it carried us over until I was offered a new full-time teaching job on the very last day of August.  

Monday, February 5, 2018

Change is Good—To a Point

Change  is Good—To a Point

Change is difficult. We get used to the way things are and a lot of what is in the news is about people fighting for their chosen ways of life in this country. But the fact is that we CAN choose our ways. The problem is often that we want others to make the same choices we do. This causes conflict and division.

Cleveland is in an uproar about Chief Wahoo again. I grew up with him too, but as Maya Angelou said—when you know better, you do better. Why can’t we can grow instead of clinging to meaningless sentimentality when it hurts other people? I don’t see that as political correctness, but as growth as fellow human beings.  I’m called a snowflake for that. But how is acting like your life is ending over a cartoon caricature not being an overly sensitive snowflake?

The fact that I grew up and discovered that everyone wasn’t just like me, that everyone didn’t celebrate Christmas in America, and might not say Merry Christmas to me does not effect my faith or traditions in any way. Do “Merry Christmas” enthusiasts think they will convert others to Christianity by forcing them to say a certain greeting? HAHA!  If you don’t want your traditions taken why would you expect that for other people?

But change should accomplish something. Make something better. Sometimes change doesn’t make sense:

Recently I saw a segment on TV about girls joining the Boy Scouts. I suppose this is seen as progressive, fair to girls, equality, but this makes no sense to me. Girl Scouts should have the opportunity to earn all the same badges as boys if that’s the issue.  But one little boy said it all when he said he had to be with his sister every day and going to Boy Scouts was when he didn’t have to do everything with her. Now he doesn’t even have that. He made a good point.  Not sure what this is accomplishing. 

I have been going to a Methodist church all of my life. Different churches have different worship styles and we have the freedom to choose a church that suits us best in America.  The particular church I attend has traditional and contemporary services. There are three to choose from in one church building. I am traditional all the way. I am in the choir and the music suits my voice and is most meaningful to me. It’s the kind of service where you sit and follow along with the program and listen to a message from the pastor. 

 A couple people attending my service like to say things while the pastor is speaking. Things like, Wow!, Go Pastor! Yes! Thank you Lord!  You get the idea.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but I don’t like it.  It isn’t part of the traditional worship that I choose to attend. It distracts me. It makes me anticipate when they’re going to say something next instead of focusing on the message. 

It seems rude to me. Don’t they notice no one else does this? Are they trying to change us in some way? Loosen us up? Isn’t that what the other services are for?  I know for a fact that a number of long time members have left or are considering leaving because of the changes. This, I realize, always happens in churches. You can’t please everyone. But if there are already different offerings available why is one being forced to change? 

One Sunday I told my husband that I felt sorry for the people sitting directly in front of these callers. To me, it’s like sitting in front of a crying baby, you can’t pay attention, and you have no choice.  But yesterday I came home to tell him that I am now one of those people. One caller joined the choir and was sitting behind me.  His constant uttering seemed to encourage yet another new choir member to join in on the noise. What’s happening? Am I going to lose my choice of worship?

I went through a range of emotions during the service. I felt some anger and some frustration. I worried about what other people around me were experiencing. And then I felt like one of those Chief Wahoo people who can’t tolerate change and insist on being an old stick-in-the-mud.  That is something I have never considered myself to be.  Something I actually abhor. 

Having said that, I think there is a lot more at stake here than sentimental traditions. This is more serious than a logo or a greeting.  I choose traditional worship because it is what reaches me. I don’t want to be distracted from what the pastor is saying. I can’t focus when there are interruptions. So what if I don’t have that choice any longer? 

Years ago my heart was broken when the church I grew up in moved to another county and I lost every tradition and precious memory I had there. I was told not to be sentimental over a building, but I lost so much more than that. The membership divided. My children never wanted to step foot in a church again after witnessing the fight between sides. I lost life-long friends. I never saw some people again. I struggled terribly with the loss and then after much searching I found the church I am in now. If I cannot worship in this church and must leave I don’t know if I will ever look for another church. I have had to reinvent my life over again too many times already. 


Organized religion is flawed. I don’t expect pastors to be perfect human beings. I don’t need the church to fulfill my every need.  I just want to be able to choose the type of worship that is most meaningful to me. I think I am losing that choice. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Hijacking of Evangelism


To evangelize is to preach the gospel of Christ and to share your faith in a way that would convert non-believers. Christians do this because Jesus called us to make new disciples and, in my experience, because we want others to know the same joy and comfort faith can bring. 

 This is the way I spent my teenage and young adult years. I was so involved in sharing my faith through music and in other ways that that my mother once complained that I was at church too much! I participated in singing groups large and small that traveled and shared my faith with others through songs and witnessing to God’s love. After our productions there might be altar calls in which tearful teens would come forward and choose to follow Jesus. We saw lives change and whole families join the church because of our “evangelizing.” Later our church produced traveling family musicals with participants of all ages with an orchestra, choreography and music that sought to accomplish the same goal—bringing our faith to others through love, compassion and music. 

I knew nothing of prejudice, excluding or judging others during those years. Everyone who came to our church was welcomed and treated with love and friendship. Everything we did revolved around sharing our faith by the example of Jesus—and that is evangelizing.

Does that sound anything like the current understanding of the word?  Is it any wonder that I  constantly read about people trying to distance themselves from the term and trying to understand how it somehow got hijacked into meaning judgement, exclusion and even hatred? 

Even though we used music to bring others to faith, the most important lesson I was taught was to live your life by the example of Jesus and that is the most effective way to share your beliefs. To walk the walk.  To love others unconditionally. This is a very difficult thing to do as a human being, but we continue to grow through prayer.

And what was Jesus’s walk?  It was the definition of loving others. Every single story, parable and example of Jesus in the Bible is one of loving others, helping others and using what God has given you for good. Jesus never judged whether another human being deserved His help or healing. He freely gave food to those in need. He invited the outcasts to dine with him in friendship. He gave His life for those who didn’t deserve His sacrifice in any way. Then He forgave those who put Him to death. All of this to show us how to live. 

Here’s what He didn’t do: berate, criticize, judge, hate, or exclude someone for who they are. Here’s something He never expressed an opinion on: homosexuality. Yet, the conservative movement of this country is fixated on the topic instead of loving people as they are—as Jesus did—remembering that, as humans, we all fall short and are in need of healing, not just those we disapprove of. Personally, I am tired of those Christians who think it is their job to correct others. Judgement and correction are God’s job.

To me, the entirety of the Bible is a very simple message that we have greatly complicated with religion and human error:
God created us and gave us free will. Because we will regularly mess things up as human beings (Adam and Eve) we need to turn to God to help us through this earthly life. He wants our praise and gratitude. He sent Moses and the Ten Commandments to make the rules easy, but some of the Old Testament ways were confusing and even violent, so He sent Jesus to show us the way to treat each other.  Jesus brought a “new covenant” of love. He said the old ways were gone. He taught us to pray so that we can be in communion with Him whenever we want. 

It’s a miserable way to live when all you can see in life is how wrong other people are. It is a futile waste of time and no one will change because of your disapproval. You will always be angry and judgmental and that is why I can no longer call myself an evangelical. I am just a believer and I hope you are too. Life is much too short to spend it trying to force people into your version of appropriate living. Let go and let God.  And God help America out of this hateful and shameful time in our history.

If you are not familiar with the actual words of Jesus as they have been passed down to us here are some verses:
Matthew 7:1-5 and Luke 6:37-38 ask us not to judge each other.
John 8:1-8 says only someone without sin should “cast the first stone”
Matthew 25:35-40 asks “when I was a stranger did you visit me, feed me, care for me?”
Matthew 5:42 tells us to give to those who ask
Matthew 25:40 says when you do something for another person it’s as if you are doing it for Him.






Sunday, October 8, 2017

Bring Me Another Stella

Bring Me Another Stella
By Diane Vogel Ferri


Bring me another Stella;
A godly creature to walk by my side,
with a mouth of gratitude to fill.
The uncompromising attention of one
who does not think I talk too much.

Let her be rescued from oblivion
to answer the door and chase the squirrels,
to sit in the sunshine in the middle of the yard
and remind me of tranquility;
the absence of anger, perpetual forgiveness.

Until then in each moment I will see her,
hear her tapping nails, her nighttime breathing.
I will speak aloud all the words I said every day
when it was just the two of us in the house.

I will wonder where she is and grieve alone.