On Disagreements

How to disagree with others but maintain a good relationship with them, and minimize disagreements in the future. 

Last night my family and I hosted a party for our children’s friends, about 30 kids from elementary school through high school. Our daughter and two of her high school friends who are all home from college were here as all. After the party, our family and Anna’s friends, Megan and Jamie, watched the 1947 movie Miracle on 34th Street, a perennial Christmas favorite. Megan had seen the movie at our house the year before and loved it, and like most young millennials in our experience, Jamie rarely watched old movies and hadn’t seen it.  We all hoped that Jamie would enjoy the film, just as we had when Megan watched it the year before, but between texting and stepping away, I feared that she would miss the subtleties that make many old movies so good. As the courtroom scene reached its climax, Jamie became more and more engaged. At the end, with a smile a mile wide, she said that it was a terrific movie.

We all want others to enjoy the things that we enjoy, because doing such things together brings us together as people. Friends who like Chinese food, baseball games, and reading Shakespeare will enjoy doing these things together, making them more fun for all and building their relationships. People who have little or nothing in common will not likely be friends, or stay friends for long.

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Who is Responsible?

Are we individually responsible for what we do? When are we responsible for what happens to us? If we take credit for our successes, how can we avoid the blame for our failures?

I was at a Preventive Medicine conference in February of 2011 and the speaker was discussing unhealthy lifestyle choices.  Her theme was that people really weren’t responsible for smoking cigarettes, being overweight or sedentary, or any other unhealthy choice.  Instead, they were victims of their genetics and their environment.

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Why is God so Demanding?

We want a God who will accomplish our will, not His. We want a God who will deliver us from misfortune to fortune. We want a God who will let us alone. But the real God loves us too much for that.  

How many people would describe God as a “cosmic kill joy”, the purveyor of “hellfire and brimstone”, and the Angry One who is “too judgmental”? Why have Christians sometimes taught that the wrathful, vengeful God of the Old Testament is not the same God as the loving, forgiving One of the New Testament? How many of my patients, especially those from Catholic traditions, endure a guilty, joyless relationship with their Creator? Why does it seem that no one is ever good enough to please Him?

The God described in the Bible possesses non-moral attributes such as His power, His knowledge, and His eternal existence. He also possesses moral attributes such as holiness and moral perfection. Ultimately God is the Holy Other, absolutely unlike anything else in the universe (Isaiah 46:9, Jeremiah 10:6). The angels in Isaiah 6:3 proclaimed “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory.” The Hebrew word “holy” (קדוש qadowsh) describes something completely set apart from anything else, and the use of the word three times provides the greatest possible emphasis. The term also connotes absolute moral purity and freedom from defilement. There is not the slightest hint of wickedness, or even selfishness, in God.

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