Category Archives: current events

How Polluted Is Your City?

As much as I hate to admit it, everything that Mark West says in this article about Chattanooga (my home town) is true. For example, he points out that Chattanooga was once considered the most polluted city in America – I remember those days when one couldn’t even see Lookout Mountain because of the brown smog that hung low over the city.

But it’s another kind of pollution that Mark describes in “Chattanooga: A Polluted City,” and that pollution is proving far more difficult to eradicate.

I love my city, and I’m happy to live here. I mean, seriously, Chattanooga is regularly listed as one of those beautiful places everyone one – especially the nature-loving folk – should visit at least once. In addition to the natural beauty, there’s the history, the southern culture, and the courteous people. Yet, a serious problem wafts through the streets, and it’s going to take a lot more than nice words and eco-friendly investments to solve.

Click on the above links and read my friend’s assessment of the situation. If you have any other suggestions, I’m sure he’ll be glad to hear. Just let him know I sent you 😉

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The Unbearable Secret

Do you have a secret? 

If it is true that “we are only as sick as our secrets” then sexual abuse is one of the most lethal secrets in our society today. There are an estimated 60 million adult survivors in the U.S., and one in 10 young people will be sexually abused by age 18.

I am one of these statistics. And, I just published a book inspired by true events, about a friend who also was victimized, but did not live to share his story.

Many survivors will tell you their abuse was the worst thing that ever happened to them. From my perspective it is not; denial is.

Denial perpetually re-victimizes, extending pain’s power over victims’ lives and adding fuel to a fire of self-destruction that can include substance abuse, relational brokenness, and pornographic and other sexual addictions.

Why We Hide

Why do sexual abuse victims hide the truth about what happened to them?

Shame.

Unlike in other crimes, victims of sexual abuse experience an intense, if misplaced sense of responsibility for what happened. In my conversations with survivors I’ve been repeatedly stunned by how often I hear a version of this statement:

“What happened to me wasn’t sexual abuse; it was my fault because I __________.”

How victims fill in the blank is not important if you understand that “sexual abuse involves any contact or interaction whereby a vulnerable person (usually a child or adolescent) is used for the sexual stimulation of an older, stronger or more influential person.” [“When Trust is Lost,” by Dan B. Allender]

The shame we feel creates the secrecy, but sadly even when we find the courage to break our silence, those we choose to trust often are unprepared and ill-equipped to receive such a difficult disclosure in a life-giving manner, at least initially.

The questions asked or the emotions expressed can serve to confirm victims’ worst fear — that what happened to them really was their fault — so rather than bringing freedom, disclosure can lead to a deepening of shame, self-contempt and denial.

  • When I first told my future husband that I was abused by my high school teacher he asked, “Was it consensual?” Now  a strong supporter and advocate, he deeply regrets his initial response, which didn’t reflect a lack of love, rather a lack of understanding of sexual abuse.
  • My friend, Paul, was an adult when he told his parents about his abuse by a priest in high school. When they learned of his intention to join other classmates in taking the allegations public, his parents questioned why he would “cause trouble for the church.” It took months for them to process their fears and anxiety and join him in his quest for justice.
  • My friend’s sister visited her aunt and uncle for the summer as a teenager. She called her parents and tearfully plead to come home because her uncle was molesting her. They dismissed her claims and told her to “stop being dramatic.”

The Secret Cost

Victims eventually escape their abusers, yet many live in fight-or-flight mode. Who is the enemy they fear most? Intimacy.

As human beings we were created to live in intimacy with each other and with God. Survivors find themselves locked in an internal conflict against this God-given desire. And as with any battle, it leaves a trail of destruction—self-destruction in this case, in the form of relational struggles, divorce, substance abuse, sexual addictions and far too often, suicide.

My friend, Paul, looks for these battle scars to identify likely victims among his high school alums. Netflix’s “The Keepers,” reports these outcomes were common among survivors of the abuse scandal at the center of this series. And The Boston Globe Spotlight team has showcased myriad cases where such fallout plagues survivors.

Secrets Don’t Keep

In Mark Chapter 4, 21-23, Jesus says to his apostles:

Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand?

For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.

 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.

Secrets don’t keep. Sooner or later they find their way into the light…and that is for our good.

As difficult as it is, the first brave step for a survivor of sexual abuse is to speak up about what happened. Bring it to someone you love and trust to come alongside you in grace and truth, even if imperfectly. Pursue recovery; I’ve created a short list of resources to help you get started.

And most importantly, bring your abuse to the Lord. Admittedly, this is no small step, especially for those wounded inside the church. Yet we serve a God who promises, “You will find me when you seek me with your whole heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

If you’ll take the risk, God will heal your broken heart. And in the process, as only he can do, he will use your brokenness to become a light to others.

It’s in this way that we discover our purpose, our value to one another and our infinite, unconditional value in the eyes of the one who created us. And that’s when something truly incredible happens:

We connect…intimately

…and we hear two of the most healing words a hurting person can hope to hear from another person:

“Me too.”

You are not alone. You are forgiven. And not only can you be delivered from the darkness of your suffering, but you can become a brilliant point of light in the lives of others.

 

About the Author

Nanette Kirsch is author of the Faith Runner blog  and of the just-released book, Denial: Abuse, Addiction and a Life Derailed, based on a true story, of how denial of childhood sexual abuse led an outwardly highly successful man into a secretive and dangerous double life.

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Filed under abuse, Christianity, current events

Charlie Gard Will Die. Shame On You.

I know that I have a lot of readers and friends in both England and the rest of Europe, so I feel bad for having to say this about their country and the continent, but shame on your leaders and your medical system!

The news came out today that the parents of Charlie Gard are giving up. Essentially, they’ve run out of time to get help for their little boy. Without doubt, yes, he will now die.

Whatever happened to compassion and the value of life? Oh, I know, so many would like to point fingers in all kinds of directions, especially at my country, America. But what is so important about a hospital’s ability to determine when someone will live or die, despite the parents’ wishes? Is there no Hippocratic oath in Europe?

Really, whether or not Charlie Gard would have lived or died from his disease, was it not the merciful, compassionate, and holy right of the parents to try whatever they could? Doctors in America – Harvard trained – were going to offer their services, but you denied release from the hospital.

Honestly, who made your hospital lawyers and your E.U. panels god?

Americans, THIS is what you get when you have a European-style healthcare system. When you turn over your rights to those who think they know better than you, believe me, they will try to prove it whenever they can.

From Facebook

Charlie Gard is going to die, but since his parents were doing the best they could to keep him alive, the death, in my opinion, is nothing less than murder. Charlie Gard was unjustly sentenced to death because all hope was deemed unworthy, and he did nothing wrong. His death sentence was an injustice enforced by the government of England and the self-righteous judges of the European Union.

Shame on you. You will answer to God for what you’ve done.

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The Affordable Care Act – What’s Good for the Goose Is Good for the Congress

My two cents on the healthcare debate…

Should the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) be repealed and replaced? Well, that’s the big question in the news, and it’s been the Republicans’ big promise for the last six or seven years.

Back before it was passed it was promised by the Democrats to be the best thing since sliced bread. President Obama promised, “If you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” He also promised that the average family’s insurance premiums would decrease by more than a thousand dollars a year.

Obviously, both promises were lies. He knew it…we knew it…everybody knew it. But it still passed.

Year after year the Republicans voted on bills to repeal Obamacare and sent the bills to the President’s desk. Needless to say, he never signed them. He probably never even looked at them. Meanwhile, health insurance premiums went through the roof.

Sure, there were more people covered under Obamacare, but many of them were people who didn’t even want insurance to begin with. On top of that, many that already had insurance had to drop their plans and became the uninsured because of premium and deductible costs.

I personally saw my health insurance cost increase from around $350 a month to nearly $1,300, and that’s with my wife on her own plan! My costs are the norm, not the exception.

Now, after the Republicans have full control of the House, the Senate, and the White House, none of them can come to an agreement. Oh, when they knew Obama would veto anything they sent to his desk it was easy. But now, when they have a President who will sign one, no bill is moving forward, not even for a vote.

Meanwhile, knowing the problems with the Affordable Care Act, Democrats are wanting it to continue with little change. At the same time, believe it or not, Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) is trying to have it both ways. He literally said that President Trump came to Washington with the promise to fix Obamacare, and if he doesn’t then he (Trump) will have to answer for it! What? Talk about not being able to win for losing!

So, regardless of who’s in power and who’s doing what, nothing is getting done. The Democrats loathe President Trump and will oppose him on everything he does, even if he wanted to make Hillary Clinton a saint. The Republican elite can’t stand President Trump either, and so they are also intent on gumming up the works on any legislation he tries to push through. Therefore, no matter what, Obamacare – a true disaster – will continue to be the law of the land.

Except for members of Congress!!

Yes, no matter what law is being forced upon us down here the valley, those on Capital Hill have their own “Cadillac plan” that no one else in the normal world can afford or even have access to. How convenient is that? We get stuck with high premiums, high deductibles, limited providers, dwindling insurers, and a promise that they will keep debating it – even though there’s not even been a vote on when to even do that.

So, here’s what I propose. If the congressional Democrats and Republicans think the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is either peaches and cream, or something that can be drug through endless debate while we must endure it, then why not drop your government plan and enroll in the marketplace?

Seriously, if Washington is going to continue to drag this out and milk it for every vote they can get…if it’s something not so bad…if it’s no big deal to let us keep paying for it and dealing with it…go online like we have to and pick out your own plan.

Dear President Trump, please sign an executive order cancelling all special congressional healthcare plans and make both the Senate and the Congress have to abide under the same laws they’ve written for us, We the People.

If Congress can take their sweet time working on it, why not make them live with it?

That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it.

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Filed under America, current events, politics

Remembering Our Brush With Terror in Chattanooga

Two years ago, today, a man drove around in his convertible Mustang and shot up my town. His goal was to kill as many servicemen as possible, so first he drove by the recruiting office on Lee Highway and unleashed a hail of bullets into the glass-fronted building. The “No Weapons” sticker applied to both serviceman and citizen alike, so no one was able to stop him before he drove off.

Photo credit: The Telegraph, UK

I stood here and wept as I took this picture. Note the green marks where spent shell casings lay.

The next place he went to was the Marine Corp/Navy Reserve training facility on Amnicola Highway, right between the community college so many of us have attended and the riverfront bike trails and pavilions so many of us have enjoyed. There the Muslim terrorists – for that is what he was, and that is what he intended on being – once again began firing on unarmed Marines and sailors with his high-powered semi-automatic rifle. At least one Marine had unofficially brought his personal sidearm with him that day and tried to stop the terrorist, but to no avail. Before long four Marines lay dead.

(Left to Right) Sgt. Carson Holmquist, Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, and Lance Clp. Squire K. Wells

A Navy sailor would later succumb to his wounds.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith

 

The local police in Chattanooga sped to the location where the terrorist was committing murder and engaged him with their own weapons.

Bullets from the conflict left holes in buildings as far away as the Coca-Cola offices across the highway and not even in view of the firefight. But before long, the self-proclaimed jihadist lay dead, too.

But Chattanooga survived.

Within the hour my city was the focus of world-wide attention. Terrorism had come to the South, and it was worth noting. But what was also worth noting was the righteous indignation of our citizens, and the flickering flames that dared the enemy of freedom to fan us into a raging fire. We were shocked by what happened, but we were far from terrorized; we Tennesseans aren’t the type to retreat from a fight.

It wasn’t long before the first American flags started appearing at the two places where gunfire was exchanged.

In no time there were hundreds, and then there were thousands. Flags and mementos too numerable to count turned into defiant monuments to those who died protecting our freedom.

Tents were erected to shelter the thousands upon thousands of flags, letters, and memorabilia from the weather.

It wasn’t long before black, white, and every other color and faith united arm-in-arm as family, as Chattanoogans… as Americans.

In short, terror didn’t have it’s desired effect; it had the opposite.

……………………..

Skip forward two years and a few months after a presidential election. What happened to the unity?

Unfortunately, we are now divided more than ever. What the terrorist couldn’t do with his guns, politicians and the media, with weapons of jealousy, anger, lies, and hate, are succeeding. Unconquerable from without, we are being destroyed from within.

Chattanooga, are we still strong? Then let us come together once again as Americans, or else the “fallen five” will have fallen in vain.

#Noogastrong, #Chattanoogastrong

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I Know I’m Gonna Get Hate Mail, But…

I Have to Say Something

As of this writing (it could change tomorrow), a local group from the Tennessee chapter of the NAACP was, but now is not, but might (they haven’t yet made up their mind) come to Chattanooga to push for the removal of a statue of Confederate Lt. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart from outside the front of the Hamilton County courthouse. Speaking of statues like this, including the one of Gen. Robert E Lee recently removed from downtown New Orleans, a representative of the group said, “it’s time for these to come down.”

Is it really?

Before you pass judgment, why not read a little about General Stewart? Maybe you’ll better understand why this particular monument (cast at Tiffany’s in NY, by the way) should stay. CLICK HERE  

Speaking to one of our local news outlets (see source), another representative of the group said back in June: “We find it offensive to be reminded constantly of the atrocities that they [Confederate statues] represent.”

Really? Is that what they represent?

Look, I don’t want to be insensitive to my fellow Americans who suffered for generations under slavery – that is the last thing I want to do. However, if I allowed myself to constantly be reminded of evil every time I saw something that was connected in some way to that particular evil, I would have to call for the destruction of every high school I attended, every place my ex-girlfriends and I parked, and especially the places where bad things happened to people I love – including a few formerly-abusive, legalistic churches.

The reason so many of the statues of Southern generals were erected had little to do with the Confederacy and much to do with what was common on both sides of the Civil War – VALOR.

The Civil War (War Between the States) of the 1860’s was full of unbelievable tragedy. Literally, brothers, friends, cousins, uncles, fathers, and sons stood toe-to-toe across grassy fields and stared down the barrels of each others’ muskets. Thousands upon thousands of young and old men fought to the death in hand-to-hand combat, the surviving often left to suffer lifetimes of pain due to the horrible wounds for which modern medicine was not present to treat.

The reasons why men fought this war were not as simple as just a desire to end slavery. Actually, the Civil War was also about states’ rights (for the South), the struggle to preserve the Union (the North), and defending the honor of one’s own home. That was a time in our nation’s history of which context is very difficult to comprehend, even though volume upon volume of history books attempt to explain it. We weren’t there; we weren’t brought up the way they were; we don’t think the way they did; we don’t even write simple love letters with anywhere near the same literacy as the common soldier of that day, so we must be careful when we judge the characters being memorialized in bronze, including those who erected them.

Here’s My Point

I’ve said all this not to cause an argument, stir up hard feelings, or create debate. I’ve said all this in order to segue into a very important, yet rarely discussed event that happened 50 years after the battle of Gettysburg.

In early July, 1913, surviving veterans of the battle of Gettysburg, both Union and Confederate, came together once again. The big difference was that this time they were not enemies, but fellow Americans.

As you might imagine, some of the organizers of this historic event were a little nervous, but none of their fears were realized. There were no skirmishes, no clashes, no hateful banners, no protests, and no modern media looking to stir something up. No, what they had was quite the opposite of what the modern mind might expect – there was peace and reconciliation.

You see, these old men who 50 years earlier were attempting to slaughter each other understood the battle was over, the causes were settled, and that each, a fellow countryman, a fellow American, did what they did because they had little choice to do otherwise. They met as brothers, as new friends, as ones who respected the sacrifices each had made for the sake of duty and honor.

It’s not difficult to look up this on Wikipedia or other websites, should you desire, so the stuff I just told you is easily confirmed. But one story that totally amazes me, especially in the comparative light of our modern culture with all it’s protests and internal conflict, is the story of what happened at the conclusion of the 50th Reunion, the last event being the reenactment of Picket’s Charge (an event which originally resulted in 1,500 Union and 6,000 Confederate casualties – click HERE for history of the battle).

The following is from the caption accompanying the picture below:

“The climactic moment of the 50th Reunion was a reenactment of Pickett’s Charge.  Thousands of spectators gathered to watch as the Union veterans took their positions on Cemetery Ridge, and waited as their old adversaries emerged from the woods of Seminary Ridge and started toward them again.   They converged as they had 50 years earlier at the stone wall but this time the Confederates were met with embraces of brotherly fellowship.”

50th6.jpg (87075 bytes)

What we have these days are people who are unwilling to forgive. What we have these days are people who can’t embrace. What we have these days are people who want to keep fighting old wars. What we have today are people who can’t appreciate honor, dignity, and valor.

What we have today is a country full of people who never literally stepped onto a battlefield to defend anything going around destroying everything when the blood has already been shed.

What we have today are people who can’t do what those who were actually there did: embrace in brotherly fellowship.

What we have today is an America divided, even though the very ones who once went to war to divide us were embraced by the very ones they tried to kill. I’m I the only one who sees the irony in this?

The monuments of Confederates here in the South are not monuments celebrating division or slavery; they are monuments commemorating honor, duty, courage, and sacrifice. The monuments of Confederates here in the South don’t celebrate old ways or injustices; they celebrate universal characteristics that turn ordinary men into leaders, the kind others would trust with their lives.

I believe the men who embraced at that stone wall in Gettysburg would have had no problem seeing monuments made of each other. After all, they were brothers.

Unfortunately, the time has come when we’ve forgotten that.

You know, it was reported in an earlier-linked news story that a representative from the NAACP said, “If you take [monuments] down, the history will not be erased. The history, that’s written in the pages and annals of libraries and tombs all across the nation.” Should you read the story linked to the picture of the monument you’ll come to learn that that’s not always so. If it had not been for the monument the history might have been lost forever.

So, I know I’m going to get hate mail, but I want the monument to stay.

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Filed under America, current events

Obama, Clinton, and the Congressional Shooting 

In light of the attempted massacre that took place this morning in Alexandria, Virginia, at a GOP baseball practice, now would be a good time for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to come out and speak to the nation, especially to those who are still angry with the results of the last election. I would suggest they say the following:

We in the Democrat party have desired greater gun control in our nation. However, what happened today should not be linked to a lack of gun control, only pure hate. Hate has no respect for the rule of law, or the lives of fellow Americans. If we want our nation to survive as a beacon of hope to the rest of the world, we’ve got to come together as a nation, a nation of people who respect authority, and pray for our leaders, not want to harm them.

At this moment in time we call for all Americans, both on the left and on the right, to come together as fellow citizens for the good of our country. There are many ways in which we can work together for the common good. There are many ways we can overlook our differences and come together as civilized beings in a civilized nation.

We pray for those who were wounded today. We suffer with them during their grief, and we as a nation we will offer all that we can to help them to recover. But if we are going to recover as a nation, we need to be praying for each other; we need to love each other; we need to respect each other; and, we need to respect the rule of law. 

Whether you voted for our President, or not, he is still our duly-elected President. We do not have to support everything he promotes, but he is our President, duly-elected, by a system that was developed by our founding fathers and has served us well for over 200 years. We need to work within the system, not try to destroy it. We need to come together and find ways to improve it, but not replace it. As a unified people, people who respect the law, we can work through our issues in peaceful ways; we do not have to resort to violence.

God be with those who are wounded today, and God bless this great nation, the United States of America!”

If Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would only say something like this, we might see a change in what is going on in America right now. But if they don’t come out and say something like this, and continue to allow this type of violence to go unanswered, they will only be hastening our society’s eventual demise.

Today we pray for our Congessmen and their aids.

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 2:1-4

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