American Experience…

I was surfing through social media today when i happened upon an article posted by my friend. The article was about President Obama and commended him for the personal touch that he has been able to bring to his Presidency. Posting the article was an act of appreciation of how the President has gone about his business. After my friend had posted the article it did not take long before someone came back at him for having posted. People are so sensitive about their politics!

The person said that my friend (a resident of Northern Ireland) might feel differently about President Obama’s administration if he lived in USA and experienced personally the decline that has happened in USA.

As one who is from Northern Ireland but lives in USA, I felt the need to respond. Once I got going I rambled on a bit. Below is the text of what I said:

I am one who was born and brought up in Northern Ireland but who now lives in America. I experience a country which has vastly changed in the last 15 years. I experience a country in which ordinary people seem to be very angry and somewhat hurt/let down by those who govern them at local, state and federal level. I also experience a country which is gripped by fear – a fear which is fed by media and the 24 hour news cycle, and which has led to a wide spread suspicion of ‘the other.’

I experience a country in which many people seem to blame President Obama for the failings which they perceive to be taking place. This blaming of the President fascinates me because USA is not governed by a single individual or office, it is governed by many elected and appointed individuals who, more often than not, appear en mass to behave like petulant children.

I experience a country where individuals run rampant with weapons of destruction in the most unlikely of places: schools, churches, public buildings.

But I also experience a great country which appears to have forgotten how good things actually are:

While many politicians do behave like petulant children, there are also others who are working tirelessly for the benefit of their constituents – I myself have experience amazing support from my local Congressman and Senator in the midst of an immigration issue.

People have the right to free speech.

A free press operates.

According to US Dept. of Health and Human Services, an estimated 20 million more people have health coverage in 2016 than did in 2010.

Americans are still the most hospitable and generous people I know – aside of the Northern Irish/Irish đŸ˜‰

Everyone has the right to marry.

Teenage Pregnancy is at an all time low, according to CDC

I lived in USA from 2003 to 2006 in the Bush administration, and I have been back living there since 2013 in the Obama administration. I do see a great differences in how I experience things in the USA in those times. But in as much as there seems to be so much in decline, there is still so much that remains great about America.

I am a fan of President Obama. I think he set targets for his administration and despite much opposition has managed to see many of them come about. Is he perfect? No way. Has any president been perfect? Will the history books reflect well on his presidency? Time will tell.

In the mean time, I am going to enjoy the remainder of his presidency because I strongly believe that this time next year we will all be looking back and thinking that we did not know how good the thing we had was until it was gone.

Later that day, one of the members of my congregation got in touch to say that she had read what I wrote and enjoyed it. She asked if I would post it on my own Social Media feed. I refuse to do that because I do not feel it is the best place for a local pastor to air political thoughts – even though there is nothing controversial in the above.

So I decided to share it here.

I hope it helps!

God and Public Schools…

This stuff irks me.

Don’t get me wrong. I would love it if prayers were still prayed publicly in schools. I would love it if the Scripture were read in schools (or any other public arena for that matter.)

However to suggest that God is not in schools is preposterous.

To say it suggests that Godly teachers leave their faith at the door and don’t pray for the children in their classes.

To say it suggests that Godly administrators and staff members do not in any way carry their faith into schools and the relationships that are established with children and families in those schools.

To say it suggests that God is not present as Godly parents and volunteers pray for and are present in schools on a daily basis.

To say that God is not in schools is to make a massive theological statement about God – namely that God is not omnipresent (in all places). Isn’t it one of the pillars of mainstream theological thinking that God is omnipresent? How then can God’s people, who would generally state that God is omnipresent in the world, say that somehow God can be banished from public schools?

The sooner God’s people begin to understand that God is omnipresent (in all places – everywhere) and that God resides within them by the power of God’s Spirit, and that God can no more be “removed” from public schools than the sun can fail to rise and set each day, the better.

And the sooner God’s people quit mindlessly and thoughtlessly jumping on to the bandwagon of this ridiculous pandering of political fear the better. Religious persecution does take place. It is a reality, and Christians are the most persecuted religious grouping in the world. But the removal of prayer from schools is not an act of religious persecution. Removal of prayer from schools is an act in line with a political ideology and constitutional foundation (in USA) that separates church and state.

My suggestion is this: instead of ‘liking and sharing’ a social media post, how about joining with your brothers and sisters in Christ at your church’s prayer meeting and praying for your local schools, teachers, and pupils?  How about volunteering in your local school and getting to know the teachers and pupils there. And then pray for them too.

The bottom line is this: God’s presence and glory in the world are manifest most greatly though the quiet and consistent actions,  and the humble witness of God’s people in the world. When God’s people are in local schools, God cannot be absent from school.

So stop posting preposterous pictures like the one above.