Dee's Blog
www.takecourage.org
Sun 09/20/2009
Just Questioning Judgment
Topic: Judgment

The favorite verse used for proof-texting by people who don't want to consider accountability is "Judge not that ye be not judged."

Most of you know how I feel about proof-texting.  I refuse to stoop to the level of arrogancy that implies that the intended audience is wayward in forgetting some important scripture.  Proof-texting is used in the hope of changing people's minds.  It almost never works, except in cases where the minds of the hearers are so easily swayed that it's scary.

"Judge not that ye be not judged" is thrown my direction quite often.  I've heard it most often when I've asked someone to join my attempts to hold someone accountable for what people like to call "just a mistake."  Problem is that "just a mistake," in these instances, refers to illegal behavior or morally reprehensible behavior.  

Examples include drug abuse and distribution, behaviors that result from drug or alcohol abuse, and any form of violence and/or abuse.  The favorite place to use the "Judge not" platitude is in protecting a minister or church leader! 

Notice that I insist on sticking to behavior.   Not labelling a person as inherently "bad."  THAT would be judging.

Somehow, religious folks often stretch the theological concepts of grace and mercy to such an extreme that ALL determination of culpability on this earth would be thrown out.  The implication is:  "Let's just wait until God's Judgment Day." (ie. in the "sweet by and by")

The "Judge not" scolding is intended to stop all conversation.  To be honest, it often works with me.  I just give up because that's often the only wise thing to do.

Recently, however, I got creative.  In one very brief statement, I stopped all conversation myself:

"I'm not judging anyone.  Because you are refusing to hold this person accountable, I'm simply questioning your judgment."

To this, I could have added:  "Now, please stop judging me!"


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Tue 09/22/2009 8:05 AM CDT
Tue 04/28/2009
Still Questioning
Topic: Holocaust

"Was I wrong?" Livia asked, now 70 years afterward, as she stood before one of many audiences she has addressed all over the world.  Perhaps I read her wrong, but I had a sense she wasn't just trying to spark some decision.  The question seemed to come from an unresolved insecurity.

At the age of 6, when their Hungarian oppressors had put out a decree that all Jews should wear the yellow star on EVERY single garment they wore, this little girl quietly rebelled.  She wasn't going to play their game!  Yet every other member of her family--all of them older-- did.

Livia did wear the stars to school, but would walk as close to the buildings as possible so her star wouldn't be readily visible to the public.  From the moment of the decree until they were put into train cars seven years later, Livia chose to give up many of the joys of her childhood and to isolate herself in her home, the only place where a star was not required. 

"How would YOU feel?"  she asked the audience, in an attempt to get us to formulate a reply to the first question.  "I felt so ashamed," she continued.

Soon, very timidly, some on the lower section began to raise their hands and to speak.  They could understand why a little girl would make such a choice.

I raised my hand, too far away and perhaps too late for her to acknowledge practically.  So I may never find a way to say what I wanted to say.  It is this:  "Livia, you were courageous and making a choice to be different in a way that hurt you, but made a statement to the world through your testimony today!"  That's the life of a rebel.  Whether through a hunger strike or a decision not to follow along with the obedient.  I'm sorry for what it cost you, but I thank you for your courage."


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:48 AM CDT
Sun 04/26/2009
Resourcefulness Required
Topic: Holocaust

When Livia Bitton-Jackson came on the stage last Tuesday night, all of us in the audience stood, without prompting, and applauded.   She was embarrassed, though gracious.  Told us that she didn't deserve this honor.  The real honor goes to those who did not survive, the ones she represented by telling her own story.

Her only request was that we go forth and tell her story.  She would be pleased to know that I have already done so several times this week--both in person and in writing.

I noted how many times I've asked people, as an author, to do exactly that with my own story.  It's certainly not a holocaust story.  Yet it is a story that is filled with some unique lessons about how people collude with evil in order to heap flaming coals on the head of one who is speaking truth about a problem that needs a lot of attention.

What I sense is fear.   I suppose it would be like Livia asking the German people to talk about her story at their family gatherings, to make it a part of their aubiographical dialogue. 

When people who are close to the church and have the need to "protect" the institution and it's "sacred" beliefs about itself and what it believes about God, there seems to be a huge disconnect, a refusal to "own" the story about complicity and collusion.

Why should I be surprised?  Like everyone and every culture, I am as prone as anyone to hide and ignore my own shadow side.  Yet hope is found only when we face our shadows and are transformed.

That's a very big job--one that all of us will do well to embrace as we learn to tell the stories of others for the greater good.


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:41 AM CDT
Sat 04/25/2009
Meeting A Real Holocaust Survivor
Topic: Holocaust

Though I've read many stories, I've never been in the same room with a "real" Holocaust survivor until this week.  Dr. Livia Bitton-Jackson visited Omaha and spoke to a packed audience where I was privileged to be.  Livia has written three autobiographical books in order to tell her story of survival. 

The title of the first describes what she feels deeply:  I've Lived a Thousand Years (best priced as a paperback at Borders). 

Livia told many unique, personal stories.  A few were funny, thankfully, to break the gloom of the overall story.  Several told of how prejudice grows in an individual or in a society.

Today, I attended the funeral of Hugh Marshall, my 90-year-old former student.  That funeral had something in common with Livia Bitton-Jackson's speech about the Holocaust.  Both were reminders that when our lives are dynamic--and certainly both of these individual lives were--we have the sense of having lived "a thousand years."  That sense seems to be increased, whether our lives are made up of many horrors or of dramatically wonderful events.  Both have the potential for changing us in positive ways.

Some would say that Hugh was a rather common man compared to Livia.  Yet neither were common at all.  For both have overcome adversities, managed to survive monumental challenges and to be a tremendous blessing to others. 

May your "thousand years" be filled with increasing joys, as mine has!  May you find many people to inspire you along the way!


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:47 PM CDT
Fri 04/24/2009
Living as if the Present is What Matters Most
Topic: Making Changes

Since I last posted in February, I've been learning the joy of living as if the present is what matters most.  I think I've always lived that way, to an extent.  Yet, the older I get, the more I tend to forget this.  There's something about aging that can keep one focused on the past more than is healthy.  OR be concerned about future needs that may appear to be somewhat threatened, by one issue or another.

This morning, I got up with my day all planned out.  Was gonna start with this blog.  I had a list of fun things and 1-2 not-so-fun.  Managed to get in a picnic with my hubby since spring has briefly arrived today.  Oh, how glorious!  

Then, the day got re-arranged with a frig problem that is reminding me of how much I depend on this freezing luxury.

Tomorrow, perhaps I'll get to something of more substance.

Yet as I was removing the magnets from my frig this afternoon, I stopped to contemplate a very deep thought.  The magnet says something about surviving being a good thing, but "thriving is elegant." 

As meaningful as this has been to me, I'm just wondering today.  Maybe it's a good thing to sometimes say:  "Thriving is a good thing, but "surviving is elegant."  I say this after visiting a 93-year-old neighbor today.  And just hours after getting the call that my oldest former student (also in his 90's) died yesterday.  I really think this is the important lesson that I've learned from him, come to think of it. 

So, I'll pass it on to you.  Surviving is NOT bad at all.  It's when we are striving to "thrive" that we often get into the valley of unrealistic expectations. 

For just today, try living in the present.   Enjoy the springtime!

 


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 3:17 PM CDT
Wed 02/11/2009
Focusing on Podcasts

Some have written out of concern that I am either ill or abandoning my ministry of education and support to those who are wrestling with the questions of collusion with sexual and domestic abuse.

I want to assure you that neither is the case.  I simply have felt the need to use my time more efficiently and to focus on other avenues of this ministry. 

Much of my focus has been on preparing podcasts for the use of www.advocateweb.org  that will be available to visitors on that site.  All of these can be found at http://www.takecourage.org/podcasts.htm   You'll also find each of these individual podcasts referred to at various locations throughout the site.  However, ALL podcasts can be accessed at http://www.takecourage.org/podcasts.htm

If you find any of these helpful, I'd like to know.  And I want to continue hearing from any visitor to the site who wishes to write.  I remain committed and hope you will take time to explore the topics that are found on this blog already.  Each one is as timely as the day it was written. 


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:29 PM CST
Fri 01/02/2009
Accessing Entries

The blog entries are organized by topic.  They can be accessed through the links at the right.  Regardless of the date of each entry, I trust that you will find them just as applicable to your needs today as they have ever been.

If you have questions about anything on this blog or on anything you find at www.takecourage.org , please do not hesitate to let me know.  I will answer as promptly as possible.

Dee Ann Miller

writerdee@cox.net


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Thu 01/01/2009
A New Year with New Aspirations
Topic: Making Changes

Happy New Year to all of you!   I hope you are looking forward more than you are looking backward, as you anticipate a new year. 

As the song says, "time keeps slipping into the future." 

I hope that I am able to make a ton of positive changes in 2009, in the "story" that living this life allows me to "write."  I also hope that I have many more years to make a difference in the lives of the people I meet. 

After twenty years of advocacy writing, I'm making a major shift this year.  Always with the option of shifting back as my heart leads me. 

What I have written about collusion, as well as all the other topics that I've touched on, through this website and through books and publications, is out there.  The written word continues to do it's on work and have a life of it's own.  That's the beauty of it.

For me, the greatest part about writing is having the opportunity to connect with readers.  That's something I plan to continue doing, as I hear from people with specific questions or needs.

My mission in life has not changed.  It has only changed focus throughout my adult life.  Always seeking to give of myself in whatever I do, as an expression of my faith, my spirituality, my sklls, and belief system--all of them constantly evolving.

I am not closing this blog today.  However, with this entry, I am taking a break in order to explore some other avenues of reaching out and personal development. 

As I will explain again tomorrow, in a much briefer note:  The blog entries can always be accessed by topics (found on this page), and I hope that you and other readers will return to review each topic as it fits your needs.

Please feel free--each of you--to drop me a line.  I will do my best to answer, as always, as quickly as possible, while returning to my focus of responding with the most urgency to new contacts. 

If you wish to be informed, when and if I resume the almost daily entries, please drop me an e-mail.

Thank you for walking with me this far.  I wish you the best as you seek to develop companionships on your individual journey.  Please embrace that journey, wherever it leads you.   Remember that I am there in spirit and interested to hear from you.

 


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 4:09 PM CST
Mon 12/29/2008
Out of the Mouth of a Grandchild
Topic: Aliens

Sometimes discrimination just sticks out like a sore thumb.

Other times, we adults see differences and find ourselves feeling very awkward as we try to show sensitivity to someone who has an obvious burden or handicap.  

Little children can be so good at accepting differences.  I suppose it's because they haven't had a lot of time to practice rationalizations that allow them to feel separated from people with differences.  In fact, they have a way of seeing "handicaps" in a different light altogether.

Like all of our grandchildren, 4-year-old Kellyn has never seen her grandfather walking without a serious limp, caused by a severe spinal injury 45 years ago.  In fact, I suspect that one thing children adore most about him is that this limitation never allows him to get ahead of them.

Tonight as Kellyn and her sister made their way upstairs at bedtime, I didn't pay much attention to Kellyn's waddling side to side, until she proudly announced:  "I'm trying to learn to walk like Papa!" 

Oh, that we could have such a perspective about so many things that set others apart!


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:24 PM CST
Updated: Mon 12/29/2008 8:26 PM CST
Thu 12/25/2008
A New Carol
Topic: Christmas

Sojourners magazine (www.sojo.net) calls it a subversive carol.  They invite us to all sing it this year.  I just sung every word.  Living it will be much harder, but I'm working on it as I'm trying to re-imagine Christmas in some new ways this year.  I think you'll know, as soon as you read the first two lines, what tune to bellow out.

May you have a very merry christmas and a peace and justice new year, as well--all year long!

Have Yourself a Peace and Justice Christmas

Have yourself a peace and justice Christmas,
Set your heart a-right.
Flee the malls and focus on Christ’s guiding light.

Have yourself a peace and justice Christmas,
Give your time a way.
Share God’s love, And serve “the least of these” today.

Here we are, as we pray for peace,
We’ll live simply and give more.
We care for those far and near to us,
Which brings cheer to us, once more.

God brings down
The haughty from high places,
And lifts up the low.
God cares for the hungry and the humble, so –
Forget the stress and let the peace and justice flow!


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST

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