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A Civil Tolerance

Sunday night I tolerated a fairly poor episode of Miss Marple on PBS.  I don’t think of it as a big deal because I try to be a fairly tolerant person, especially when it comes to:

Adam Sandler,
That woman from the Progressive commercials,
Cat’s (both the animals and the musical),
The mispronunciation of Chi-po-tle
East Coast Bias“,
The proliferation of “energy drinks”,
Beets,
Colbie Callait,
Vampire themed entertainment,
And yet another self serve frozen yogurt store!

I believe that the tolerance of human beings is a great idea and it is commanded by God.  While I want everyone to be tolerant, I’m not naive enough to believe that tolerance is the beautiful thing that we want it to make it.

My friend Aaron says that we talk about tolerance like it’s a beautiful concept, but it isn’t.

Tolerance is putting up with something that you don’t agree with or believe.  Tolerance isn’t acceptance, it’s understanding.  Tolerance in action is understanding that people don’t, can’t, or won’t agree on everything, so you get over yourself and get on with the life that you are called to live.

Tolerance is doing the bare minimum for the sake of civility.

As a Pastor, I get on quite well with the majority of non Christians I meet because I have absolutely no expectation that they are going to live up to the standards that Jesus calls me to.

Why would they?  They aren’t Christians.

When you factor in that it’s a daily struggle for me to live the life of sacrifice that being a disciple of Jesus entails, it’s difficult to get worked up about other people… even when I don’t agree with them.

Probably the biggest disagreement I have with the average person is that I don’t believe that we can be anything we want to be, or do anything we want to do if we just:

Believe in ourselves,
Work hard,
Reach for the stars,
Have faith,
Never give up,
And believe that the greatest love of all is inside our hearts.

We each encounter limitations based on our mental and physical abilities, gender, and opportunity.  While it’s true that a positive attitude overcomes many of life’s limiting constraints, no amount of it can make a girl into a pony, a boy into a fire engine, or someone with an irregular heartbeat a professional athlete.

No matter how hard we believe or try, we can’t actually achieve all of our dreams.

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What We Believe & What We Can Prove

 

Whether it’s finding lost keys in the sofa or watching an episode of Cold Case, humans love a resolved mystery.  What’s a mystery to me isn’t why there are so many mystery shows on Television, it’s how they’ve changed over time.

For years, the only substantial difference between “Perry Mason”, “Murder She Wrote”, “Diagnosis Murder”, and “Matlock” was the starring actor.  Not only were each of the programs nearly perfect carbon copies of one another, they were also nearly perfect carbon copies of themselves on a weekly basis:

1.) Introduction (catchy theme song)
2.) Murder
3.) False accusation by inept young people
4.) Incompetent legal proceeding (more young people)
5.) Casual investigation by friendly elderly hero
6.) Acquittal of the wrongly accused
7.) Thorough, if brief, revelation of the true culprit (Song reprise)

When you sprinkle in commercials featuring funeral insurance, motorized scooters, and Wilford Brimley  you have the recipe for a typical Sunday evening installment… and a surprisingly handgun free murder mystery!

When it comes to investigative drama written for the elderly, the critical moments always revolve around the eyewitness testimony of an actual participant.  In fact the culprit usually breaks down under pressure and gives the viewer all the details, including motivation, behind the crime so that no one is left wondering about what actually happened.

Real life is very rarely like this since many crimes do not feature living witnesses and most criminals lack the self awareness to accurately describe their terrible motives.  Programming has since changed to reflect this by attempting to mimic postmodern “realism”.  In recent years audiences have become familiar with an updated take on criminal procedure:  The science of forensic investigation.

CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: New York, and CSI: Extreme Makeover introduced us to a new television formula where “people may lie but science never does!”  In this format mysteries are rarely solved by interviewing people, they are solved by recreating the conditions present during the crime, and examining the materials produced during the event.  These programs are populated by beautiful young people with tattoos and piercings who solve crimes using the latest technology, fashionable eyewear, and handguns.

But these shows do have a striking similarity:

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Very Superstitious

I don’t write with blue pens.  I’ll go out of my way to find a black one.  It’s not like blue ink is an inferior color to black, it’s just that writing in blue ink feels wrong.  It’s not that blue ink has always felt wrong,  I used pens with blue ink in high school.

Academically speaking, High School didn’t go well for me.  I was that guy who came to class without a pen, or paper, or bagel.  One day in Junior College I wrote something good for English class (yes, in 1991 computers were still very War Games) and it happened to be written in black ink.  I liked the way the teacher’s red marks looked against my black words.  When it came time to write again, I made sure I used a black pen… for luck.

What’s funny is that I don’t consider myself superstitious.  Even though I will waste several minutes a week searching for a black pen, I think of other people as having superstitions because I don’t have “a lot” of them.  The truth though is that regardless of how many superstitious beliefs or behaviors we possess, each of us is superstitious.

Superstition, in essence, is a credible belief that isn’t born out of reason or knowledge.  Superstitions sound true and feel accurate, but are not based on fact.  For instance:

Hay Fever has nothing to do with hay or, wait for it, fever.  The usage of the term “fever” to describe malady, and the arrival of seasonal allergies coinciding with the summer hay harvest led pre-modern mankind to describe the adverse affects of pollen laden air as “Hay Fever”.

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