Dolly Parton and “Travelin’ Trou”

I was visiting a blog I haven’t been to in a while – Two World Collision. On it, the blogger has the words from Dolly Parton’s song “Travelin’ Thru” from the movie “TransAmerica.” A very good movie, whether you agree with the content or outcome or not.
I have come to have great respect for Dolly Parton. Because my parents have always liked Country Music, I’ve witness the progression of her career and life. These past few years I’ve seen her in a number of interviews and she strikes me as someone who is very comfortable in her own skin (no matter how tucked or pulled that skin may be). To me, she exemplifies someone who is “real.”
There is that part of Dolly Parton that I hope I can be like – her ease, her lack of animosity towards others, her self-deprecating humor, her willingness to give the benefit of the doubt to those she may disagree with or dislike, her quickness to laugh, etc. She puts people at ease, it seems, and is unwilling to play God by making quick, self-serving judgments that belittle or condemn others outright. There is a sense of accomplishment in her life, but a humility that keeps it all very real. She realizes that there are reasons behind why people are as they are and that life is tough.
You can read the lyrics below (thanks to Two World Collision). You can also watch Dolly’s video on YouTube.

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Living an Illusion

Living the Collective Illusions
Thomas Merton

People are constantly trying to use you to help them create the particular illusions by which they live. This is particularly true of the collective illusions which sometimes are accepted as ideologies. You must renounce and sacrifice the approval that is only a bribe enlisting your support of a collective illusion. You must not allow yourself to be represented as someone in whom a few of the favorite daydreams of the public have come true. You must be willing, if necessary, to become a disturbing and therefore an undesired person, one who is not wanted because he upsets the general dream.

My source: Inward/Outward
Their source: Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

It won’t work like they want it to work

The politicized Religious Right and “pro-family” groups keep pushing for victim-hood status as they claim their free speech rights are being violated. There is an element of truth here in the sense that chaplains at the air-force academy, for example, are being kept from praying and saying very sectarian things in the midst of the religiously mixed student body. Another example, see below, is a high school valedictorian who began witnessing to the assembled students, family, and friends about Jesus Christ. Her microphone was turned off shortly after she deviated from her text and began evangelizing the crowd. She and the Religious Right legal organization – The Rutherford Institute – are suing for the violation of the student’s First and Fourth Amendment rights.
There have been so much negative representations of Christianity over the past few decades – much of it self-inflicted and not as a result of blatant anti-Christian sentiments of the media, as some claim. It is not a matter of our rights to force people to listen to us as we witness to them, but we are to earn the right to be listened to. We fall far short in our actions and words, particular by those who most stringently demand their rights. Many in the politicized Religious Right claim that their imperative to “save souls” – in their particular, very American, and very sectarian understanding of how that is supposed to happen – supersedes any consideration of the rights or feelings of those who do not agree with them. They are demanding that they have the right and the ability to evangelize anyone, anywhere, no matter the venue or purpose of the event – especially when the situation is a government sponsored event, as in a public high school graduation ceremony.
It is their right to free speech. I agree that it is their right, in the same way that it is the right of a Muslim, Hindu, or a Buddhist to witness before the same crowd in the same way. (Of course, the politicized Religious Right would have a fit if a Muslim valedictorian evangelized the crowd at a graduation ceremony – because they have a right not to hear the deceptive lies of Satan spewed forth by false religions in a government sanctioned function.) I say, let them say all this stuff whenever and however they want as long as they allowed others the same right. I fear, however, that they do not want others to have that same right.
The problem is that in this day in age most people are going to react very negatively when they are confronted with blatant and sectarian evangelization – not necessarily because they hate “real Christians” or hate God, but because these “real Christians” are acting with very little respect or consideration for those before whom they are speaking. In the long run, it will be counter-productive to the Religious Right’s cause of saving the souls of everyone – again, according to their understanding of how that is supposed to happen to the exclusion of any other form or means.
The loud, shrill, arrogant, and demanding tone of speech and action being employed by the politicized Religious Right will not bring mass conversations to their form of the Christian faith, but more likely will turn more people away from the cause of Christ and Jesus’ call for all to be reconciled to God and one another. There is such a profound lack of “love your neighbor” in their actions – it’s all about securing their rights, regardless of the rights of anyone else.
Yes, anyone who claims to be a Christian can express their faith and their experience, but there are times and places and means of doing so that truly will be effective and others that will not be. A lot has to be undone at this point before earning the right to be heard from here on out.

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Oft used quote…

What length will people go?

“Of all tyrannies a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience …. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level with those who have not yet reached the age of reason … You start being ‘kind’ to people before you have considered their rights, and then force upon them supposed kindnesses which they in fact had a right to refuse, and finally kindnesses which no one but you will recognize as kindnesses and which the recipient will feel as abominable cruelties.”

– C.S. Lewis