Why Leadings?

Not to lead, but to be led            -- by the Holy Spirit.

See Leader, Servant, or Slave? in the section below, "Walking the Walk".

Jack in Denali National Park, 2012.

God's Wrath

Why was Sodom destroyed? Ezekiel tells us in chapter 16, verse 49: "This was the sin of your sister, Sodom: Pride, full-ness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

That's also why Jerusalem was destroyed.

And now, with greed as our national virtue, what hope is there for the United States of America? We are afflicted by imperialistic pride, obesity, and entertainment addiction, and we are all called to do our part to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy".

"Strengthen the hand" is the King James wording. Modern translations say "help the poor and needy." And there's a world of difference between the two. Helping the poor = as little as throwing some cash in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time. That's charity. It's doing for, not doing with.

My Grandmother was right about charity. On a below-zero day, she went out on the back porch with a skillet to throw hot grease on the back-yard snow. She shivered as she re-entered the kitchen and said, "Wooooh, colder than charity."

Strengthening the hand is much different. We get personally involved with another person who needs help, and we work with her or him to get the needed help. That's risky. You're vulnerable. It takes prayer, time and patience. You need knowledge and wisdom from the LORD. There are great rewards, however. You get a brother or sister.

Strengthening the hand is great work for our churches -- which we ignore far more often than we perform. Why? Because we're afflicted with the Ameri-can curse of individualism. Christians are to be a tribe -- a tribe that takes care of each other. In Galatians 6:16, Paul calls us "the Israel of God" -- the new 13th tribe.

Jesus said, "The poor you shall always have with you." He didn't mean that as a curse -- the notion that the poor are an inevi-table nuisance and expense, to be hidden in the slums. Rather, He was saying, "You shall always be among the poor."

When you strengthen hands, you fulfill Deuteronomy 15:4-5: "However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God . . ." It's a glorious responsibility and promise.

And how do prosperous Americans fulfill that promise? Generally, by making sure they have no contact with people who are poor -- and we have been that way from our beginnings in the 17th century. Early villages in Massachusetts solved the problem by out-lawing poor people. Today, we deal with the same problem by confining the poor in urban reservations, our slums.

As the Supreme Court Bailiff says at the beginning of each session, "God save the United States of America..." 


Self-Sufficiency -- Nature or Nurture?

By Older Daughter


[Written in December, 2008.  At that time, she and her husband lived in Menlo Park, CA.  They now live in Dallas, TX.  Her husband is Korean by birth, and he's more Americanized than I am.]


She wrote in her blog--

Saturday I called my Dad. For Thanksgiving, he'd stayed with my sister in Seattle, then took a train south. For the past week, he'd been at a Trappist monastery in northern California. He'd planned a weekend trip to Susanville (a small town where he lived for a year when he was twelve), and then to Pyramid Lake and Reno, NV. However, with snow in the Sierras, he didn't want to end up like the Donner Party, so he was just going to hang out in Chico for a couple days.

On the phone, he said he'd arrive at our place Tuesday afternoon, as planned.  We chatted about other things and then signed off. 
I mentioned all this to my husband in passing. His first comment was, "You told him he could come early, right?" I blinked. Huh? It never occurred to me. Dad certainly wasn't hinting at an earlier arrival either. 

That night we had dinner with Lovey and Dovey, who are both Asian. When I told the story, they were also shocked I hadn't invited him to come earlier. I laughed, "Well, I guess I come by my self-sufficiency honestly, right?"

In our family, my Mom always complained that the other four of us were thoughtless. She was the only one who tried to make life better for the whole family. The rest of us only thought about ourselves.  I could go on -- her litany usually took 10-15 minutes. I clearly tuned it out within the first couple lines.

     [Jack: “Margaret’s complaint had basis, but it wasn’t entirely accurate. I organized many family events,         particularly the serindipping.”]

Over the years, I'd like to think I've become more thoughtful of others, but I think there is a core of me that feels like it's everyone for themselves. I thought it was due to an absent-minded father. You know, if you can figure out a bus route home, then you don't have to wait the extra hour for Dad to remember to pick you up.

I think it's deeper than that. When I remember visiting colleges, I always went alone or with a high school friend. I'm not talking about local colleges either! To the University of Chicago (in a bad part of town), I went with a friend. To Oberlin College, I drove up with my best friend. Hampshire College? I flew to New England alone. Took a bus from Springfield up to Amherst. Took a local bus from Amherst out to the college. Met with someone in the Admission office. Asked for a recommendation for where to stay. Was invited to crash on the floor of a student's room. Did that. At the time it all seemed normal. My family couldn't afford to all go, I needed to see the schools. We did what we had to do.

It's only in retrospect, as I watch friends escorting their children to various colleges, that I realize what I did was crazy! Obviously, I'd earned my parents trust, but still.

I called Dad yesterday and invited him to head our way. Of course, being The International Man of Mystery (as designated by my two best friends), he already had plans to hang out in Berkeley. He'll save on one night of hotels and come to us Monday evening instead of Tuesday. He wasn't twiddling his thumbs or pining away alone in some hotel room. In my family, we were bred to be independent. If it needs to be done, let's do it! No waiting for the whole group. No consensus. Barely look around to make sure anyone is with you. Let's go!

No wonder I drive my hudnsnf crazy at times! My behavior is not just un-Asian, it's almost anti-Asian. Totally thoughtless. My poor husband. I wish my Mom had lived longer so he'd have had an ally.

Comment by Younger Daughter

I drove out to visit my prospective colleges with some girlfriends, made a road-trip out of it. Never occurred to me to go with the folks.

 I do feel guilty for my underlying selfishness, but it does occasionally pass for independence (which is a more positive spin!)  

It is hilarious to watch our four family members walk down the street.  It is impossible for us to walk together. Dad will be looking in a store window half a block behind us,  Brother will be half a block ahead. Often we lose each other, but eventually we end up at the same place. My husband has taken up Zen Buddhism to try and cope.

My Reply 

Ha Ha Ha Ha. I laughed out loud here in Tully’s when I read your blog.  I'm a block from Cal, on Berkley Square (with nary a nightingale in sight).
I'd never thought much about our mutual independence before. My parents accompanied me to Dartmouth, Yale and Princeton for pre-admission interviews. You both did your things in selecting and visiting colleges.  (Except, we were with you one time in Chicago at the Art Institute and the University.)

I assumed that your selecting and visiting your colleges on your own was natural. Maybe it's a generational thing. A century ago, the mothers of Douglas McArthur, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Adlai Stevenson went with them, respectively, to West Point, Harvard and Princeton. All four years.

I'm glad you're independent. I'm glad we're interdependent. We can rely on each other and so much enjoy each other's company. It's a wonderful gift.


Also, I am not absent minded.  In the words of William James, "I am present-minded elsewhere."


Purpose of this blog is to compile a book for my grandchildren to read in 25 years.

Copyright © 2011 by Jack Towe


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