Deep Roots

We need deep roots in faith, family, and friends, to allow us to weather the storms of life. Otherwise, we will fall. 

On Thursday, November 15, a ferocious ice storm hit southern West Virginia, downing trees, knocking out power, and causing major property damage across several counties. Our family lost power for over 30 hours, and six large trees came down in our yard. The children were cross, sitting in a cold, dark house and unable to get on the internet. More importantly, they were unsettled. To them, electrical power is a fundamental fact of life. It is always there – you flip a switch and…shazam! When you need power, it is suddenly there. They could not imagine living like my grandmother, raised in rural southern Arkansas, whose only power was fire in candles, oil lamps, and stoves… or sunlight.

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Accident of Birth?

No one’s birth is an accident. The hand of the Sovereign God governs all. 

A recent op-ed bemoaned Brexit and the state of the British government. The English author opined that the prime minister was weak, Parliament was fractious, and once respected democratic institutions were losing public trust. Against this gloomy backdrop, one which has persisted for decades, the British monarchy has rarely been so popular. Why, the writer asks, should a democratic country so revere its constitutional monarchy, which after all selected its leaders not by merit but by an “accident of birth?”

The phrase “accident of birth” has been used a lot in the past 20 years, often to make prosperous people feel badly about prospering. People say “You were born (white, Asian, male, female, rich, American, European, etc.), but your success is merely an accident of birth. You didn’t do it, and you have no right to be proud of it.” Former US President Barack Obama’s “you didn’t build it” gaffe during his 2012 reelection campaign is a variation – partly true, but partly false. The claim “your prosperity is merely an accident of birth” is also used against selected (usually materially successful) members of traditionally disadvantaged groups such as African Americans and Hispanic Americans. The poor can airily dismiss the rich, even as the rich have airily dismissed the poor, with this handy phrase.

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Our Persian Sister

She moved out just over one year ago. Things had been tense for several weeks, especially since her sister had visited. We didn’t know why, but I could hear the tension in Jane’s (not her real name) voice, and see her almost continually locked door in our basement. We tried to understand why she seemed to grow more distant, but the closer we tried to get, the farther she moved away.

Jane was a young Christian Persian woman who I had met on a mission trip to Central Asia in 2011.  She had come to New York City in September 2013, lived in rooms rented from families, and ate out. She linked up with the Persian community and enjoyed the night life of the Big Apple. Perhaps to save money, Jane moved to Virginia to live with us in December 2014.

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