Category: PEOPLE

Editors Choice Photo Diary Entry #884 – A young Rohingya boy’s drawing

I definitely wish I could share only ‘feel good’ stories,
but that would mean I was in denial, rather than being
(hopefully and prayerfully) a conveyor of the spectrum
of life’s beauty in so many contexts, as well as of life’s
tragic examples of the human capacity to be inhumane
to our fellow human (as well as animal) residents of the
earth that we all share.
 
Bill 


A drawing by a Rohingya boy about his experiences
while fleeing Myanmar.

 

Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

Editors Choice Photo Diary Entry #864 – Acts of God and Acts of Humans

Acts of God?
Acts of Humanity?
Who decides? 

The photo above represents an instance of uncontrollable natural forces in operation. I find it ironical that when horrific events such as hurricanes or floods occur, they are simultaneously considered to have ‘natural’ explanations [think weather reports], or in legal language an ‘act of God.’ For example, the following is the definition of an ‘Act of God’ from the Oxford Living Dictionary: An instance of uncontrollable natural forces in operation.‘the flooding was surely an act of God’
 
Whereas the above photo seems to clearly represent consequences resulting from the forces of nature,  only if the homeowner was insured would the term ‘act-of-god’ come into play.
 
Click below to connect with an additional legal definition:

 

I find it distressing, however, that so many tragic events in our world are deemed ‘acts of god,’ when there is no question that they were initiated by humans.

Said human or humans may well have acted under the conviction that they were fulfilling the will of the god, and/or of their god’s human representative).

I am not referring here to minor sects, but also to the misuse of prophetic predictions by prominent Evangelists and other well-known – events that often result in human deaths and significant property damage as well – are a tragedy impacting human life, health, and well-being. But when/if would we call it a ‘Act of God?’

 Take, for example, the human tragedy depicted in the photos shared below:
Bill  

Rohingya refugees this month near the Naf River, which separates Myanmar
and Bangladesh. Villages in Myanmar burned in the background.


Tasmida, front, an 18-year-old Rohingya refugee, crossing the Naf River.
She spent eight days walking and hiding to reach the border.

Credit Adam Dean for The New York Times


The Rohingya people are a stateless Indo-Aryan people from Rakhine State, Myanmar. There were an estimated 1 million Rohingya living in Myanmar before the 2016-17 crisis. The majority are Muslim while a minority are Hindu. Described by the United Nations in 2013 as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, the Rohingya population are denied citizenship under the 1982 Burmese citizenship law. According to Human Rights Watch, the law “effectively deny to the Rohingya the possibility of acquiring a nationality. Despite being able to trace Rohingya history to the 8th century, Burmese law does not recognize the ethnic minority as one of the national races”. They are also restricted from freedom of movement, state education and civil service jobs. The Rohingyas have faced military crackdowns in 1978, 1991-1992, 2012, 2015 and 2016-2017. UN officials and HRW have described Myanmar’s persecution of the Rohingya as ethnic cleansing, while there have been warnings of an unfolding genocide. Yanghee Lee, the UN special investigator on Myanmar, believes the country wants to expel its entire Rohingya population.
Click below to read the entire NY Times Article on this humanitarian crisis.

 

Editors Choice Photo Diary Entry #863

Adam Dean for the New York Times


Adam Dean for the New York Times


Tasmida, front, an 18-year-old Rohingya refugee, crossing the Naf River.
She spent eight days walking and hiding to reach the border.
Credit Adam Dean for The New York Times


Click below to read the NY Times Article on this humanitarian crisis.


I’ve been thinking, and praying, a lot lately about crises that impact the lives and the livelihoods of humanity, as well as all creatures great and small, and the habitat they’ve relied on – sometimes for centuries.

Part of my reflection has led me to wonder about why so-called ‘natural disasters’, are in legal terms called ‘Acts of God.’ I am a believer in the premise that we owe thanks to God when we feel grateful for God’s gifts to us, but it seems archaic and nonsensical to assign credit (or blame) for natural disasters to the Divine Mystery many of us name as ‘God,’ when ‘nature’ is just following the ‘laws of nature.’

Should we consequently call human-driven disasters such as depicted above ‘Acts of Humanity’, given that they are behaving like – tragically – humans have behaved since the beginning of time? The problem I have with such depictions is that they seem to leave ‘God out of the mix,’ so what does that mean?

In a recent issue of the National Catholic Reporter there was an article questioning how Catholics who are advocates for the ‘Right to Life’ for neonates, can concurrently support the death penalty for those very humans who grow up to be violent, or to be criminals convicted of other crimes. I commend my Catholic sisters and brothers in faith for tackling such instances in which – as is true in most though hopefully not all faith traditions – there are logical disconnects between stated beliefs about when a life is deemed ‘sacred,’ and when it is deemed ‘profane.’
 
Lots to think, and reason together, and pray or meditate, or engage in dialogue with others about, isn’t there?
 
 I’d welcome your experiences and expression of understanding of how/why the Divine One gets credit (or blame) for ‘natural’ disasters. Are ‘human caused’ disasters, which seem to have been a part of reality ever since there was a means of recording them, are only considered acts of God if they fit a particular segment of humanity’s understanding of how God behaves, and/or expects God’s Chosen Ones to behave? 
Bill   

Editors Choice Photo Diary Entry #819

Staff Sgt. Ashlee Bruce of the U.S. Air Force.  She is among those wondering whether she will be discharged after President Trump said [this past] Wednesday that the military would no longer “accept or allow” transgender people to serve.

 

Nick Cote for The New York Times 

A Father Who Modeled Grace – A Reflection by the Still Faith-FULL Webmaster

An Adult Daughter Reflects on the Model

her Now-Deceased Father Provided for

Handling Teasing and Harrassment

By Cynthia Marlette


Introductory Comments by Bill:

You may recall the recent ‘Just for Fun on Friday’ entry which poked fun at an Irishman.  In introducing the joke I wrote:

Some folk seem to take offense that any humor directed at their gender, or their ethnicity, or especially their religious preferences. I admit to ‘having been there, done that.’

Time, along with hearing umpty-ump Sven and Olie jokes have helped me be – at the least – a bit less defensive about my own Scandinavian origins <g>.

I’d offer the excuse that ‘The Devil Made Me Do It,’ but I guess that would ring hollow coming from the Editor of a publication titled ‘Still Faith-FULL After All These Years’ <vbg>

Upon receiving the entry, our wonderful webmaster Cynthia sent me her reaction to what I’d written. I was so touched by her words that I asked if I could share them with the Still Faith-FULL readership. She responded with an Okay.

I then realized that a picture of her father would enhance the power of her story. She, in turn, sent this wonderful photo of her late father kissing her mother. The photo also provides an image of the family farm where Cynthia grew up and where she is, in fact, currently visiting her mother.

Bill

EVERYONE needs to stop taking such personal offense at every thing. When we stop laughing at ourselves, we become miserable human beings. Unfortunately there are too many miserable human beings out there now by their own accord. Geez, just laugh a little, people!

I learned that from my dad who was brutally made fun of in the military for not drinking, smoking, and carousing. They even tried to pour beer down his throat. But he was likable and afterward remained friends with all the guys he went into the service with. He laughed it off, and it made him a stronger person and stronger in his values. And they respected him for it. He NEVER judged the other guys for what they did, he just refused to do it himself. He also didn’t spend the rest of his life lamenting about it because he was strong in his constitution. (His good Czech parents taught him that.) Parents need to be teaching this and raising stronger kids.

Editors Choice Photo Diary Entry #794 – 50 Years Ago Today

The 50th Anniversary of William Peterson
and Kathleen Parrish


July 1, 1967
University Presbyterian Church
Rochester, Michigan
 
A note from Bill:

As Kathy states in her message below, her maternal grandparents were truly the solid dock in her life. I believe it to be fair of me to state that if it were not for this dear, loving couple who provided her with a ‘safe dock’ to anchor to when storms were roiling in her own home, she would likely never have become the individual who I found so compelling those many years ago. Grandma and Grandpa Elenbaas were also, literally, the only grandparents I had the privilege of knowing, given that my parents’ parents had died by the time I came to an age where I might have appreciated their nurture.

Our wedding date was also the occasion of Kathy’s grandmother’s 81st birthday, so it was a special privilege for Kathy and me to call attention to that at the wedding reception. I thus wholeheartedly support Kathy’s choice of this particular photo from our wedding day as today’s Editor’s Choice entry. These two individuals were examples of being pillars of a small Midwestern community. They also served as a matriarch and patriarch of the small and nurturing Congregational Church that had been a significant part of Kathy’s upbringing.

I am thankful to have had the privilege of being a recipient of such role models for inter-generational love and support.

Bill   


Kathy reflects:
… Thanking My Grandparents …

 

In this picture, which was taken on our wedding day, July 1, 1967, it is with my maternal grandparents that we stand at the front of the Presbyterian Church in Rochester, MI, where we were married, and had our reception at the home next door.

Both Grandma and Grandpa look so happy, as I so often remember they did when I was in their company. They loved each other dearly, and they did the same for me from the time I was born until the days they died. I still can feel their presence in my life in so many ways.

They loved to tease each other, just as Bill and I attempt to “get each other’s goat”, but the love is solid, we think (!), using my grandparents as the best role models we had for great love and laughter.

Grandma and Grandpa were members of the little Congregational Church where I was also a member when I joined the church in 7th or 8th grade. They always sat in the same pew at the back, and often I joined them for Sunday worship. Grandma brought her well-worn tattered Bible to church every Sunday, and always pointed out the scripture readings to me when our wonderful minister was  reading from the pulpit. 

Whenever Bill and I visited Wayland, while we were dating, going to my grandparents home was always a high priority.

Once again, they were so happy to see us, and something that Grandma had baked in the kitchen was served to us. She was the consummate hostess. Grandpa was the consummate host, always nibbling on the cookies that were baked just before we arrived, sometimes crumbs on his chin as he greeted us, giving away his habit of loving Grandma’s baking!

Our times with them were more precious each time we visited them. Grandpa would complain, with a grin on his face, about the Catholics parking in front of their home on Sunday mornings so that he could barely make it out of the driveway to the Congregational Church. Grandma would shussh him and say, “Now, Harry!”

So to say they had a positive impact on my, and then Bill’s and my lives, is an understatement. They were truly joyful people who loved me greatly, and were so thankful that I found this man called Bill Peterson. Somehow I know they will be with us on our 50th anniversary on Saturday! We love you, Grandma and Grandpa. You were our role models for our marriage, and still are!

Love,
Bill and Kathy

Editors Choice Photo Diary Entry #778

Heading Home at Sunset


Kathy and I have had the opportunity to interact with the Amish in several of the locations where we’ve resided through the years. Not everyone appreciates the accommodations needed to help insure their safe passage on sometimes narrow country roads, or on major (though not Interstate) highways. In our case, however, we relish knowing that there are still those in our world who are willing to live, farm, socialize, et al ‘the old fashioned way,’ as opposed to succumbing to the pressure to live like most everyone else does who reside around them or travel through their habitats.