If History Should Happen to Repeat Itself

Right now I’m about a third of the way through a novel by my friend Ann Tatlock. ALL THE WAY HOME is a historical novel, and the fact that I’m reading it says a lot about Ann’s writing; I ordinarily avoid historical novels at any cost. But this one sparked my interest in a special way.

This novel is about a young girl, Augie, whose home situation is so undesirable that she hangs out as much as she can with Sunny, a schoolmate she became friends with at the park. Over time, Augie becomes more and more a part of Sunny’s family. Sunny’s parents do  everything short of legally adopting Augie.

An interesting story? Of course it is.

But when you put the story in its historical context, it becomes more than simply interesting. Sunny and her parents are Japanese-American. Genuine flag-waving American  citizens.

And the setting makes this story even more intriguing. It starts prior to the beginning of Word War II, when Augie thinks the Japanese are the greatest people on the face of the earth. She thinks of herself as Japanese and wishes she was Japanese, too.

But then the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and the United States enters the war against Japan, and Augie and Sunny can’t really understand why things are the way they are. Especially the fact that seemingly all non-Japanese-Americans turn their backs in fear on their Japanese fellow citizens and make hatred the byword of the day. Sunny’s family sees the possibility of being moved to an internment camp as a real possibility.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten. I foresee Augie’s Japanese family being sent to an internment camp and Augie wishing she could go, too. Perhaps she even tries to. I don’t know.

Because I’ve gotten so caught up in loving and sympathizing with those two girls and Sunny’s Japanese family, it’s hard for me to keep reading. I’m not sure I want to see what they must go through.

Looking back on that period in American history, I’ll bet most people today would insist that the internment camps of yesteryear wouldn’t happen today. I hope they’re right.

But we’re facing a similar situation regarding Islam. Because of the Muslims who are unquestionably our enemies, some people are tempted to view all Muslims the same way.

Can you blame them? How many of the Islamic terrorists who’ve wrought havoc in America were described by former neighbors as kind, friendly people? How can we tell who’s dangerous and who’s not? How many criminals look like criminals, anyhow?

I’m on President Trump’s side in restricting immigration from Islamic countries, at least for a while. I think liberals who claim that Muslims are being discriminated against because of their religion are forgetting one thing: those potential immigrants are not U.S. citizens; does the Constitution actually give them the rights citizens should have? And those same liberals appear to have no objections to discriminating against American citizens who are Christians.

Even if President Trump can keep potential terrorists out of the country, that doesn’t change the fact that we already have a number of terrorists living here, just waiting for the right chance to strike.

What I’m afraid of is that genuinely peace-loving Muslims who’ve already become American citizens and have begun making a positive contribution to their new country’s welfare may have to pay the price for the Muslims who believe in jihad.

The relatively small acts of terrorism we’ve seen since 9/11 have been bad enough, but what will Americans’ attitudes be if the jihadists carry out another 9/11 attack–or something even worse? In our fear and our inability to tell who’s who, will we treat all Muslims the way Americans’ treated Japanese-American citizens during Word War II?

I pray that we don’t. And that we won’t separate two cute little girlfriends–one Christian, the other Muslim–because of our fear and resentment.

I’d appreciate your comments on this post.

 


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Best regards,
Roger

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Fear and Uncertainty

A 2010 survey of American ministers ranked Andy Stanley as the 10th most influential living pastor. I doubt seriously that his ratings have fallen any. He’s an incredible preacher.

Our Wednesday night Bible study uses videos by various teachers and preachers, and I doubt whether any of our group would fail to put Andy at the top of our list of favorites. He speaks to us, even as he speaks to his own  congregation.

Last week we started watching a new series of Andy’s–new for us, anyhow. It’s called Tough As Nails. That first sermon was a knockout.

I don’t have to tell you that the world is full of uncertainty. I suppose it always has been, but things have gotten far worse than any of us could have imagined. And they’ll probably keep getting worse. How can they fail to with all the evil in the world and the world itself constantly growing smaller through the Internet and other forms of telecommunications?

None of us can be certain we’ll be alive tomorrow, much less next near. Any of us could fall victim to a crazed killer with a gun or a terrorist with a bomb or a machete. Or an equally crazed world leader with his finger on the trigger of a nuclear bomb that’s aimed in our direction. Or someone who’ll poison our water supply or take down our power grids.

Not to mention the threat of another megalomaniac president who’ll take away even more of our freedoms, including the ability to defend ourselves.

Over the years, I’ve been satisfied with wondering whether whether I’ll end up in a nursing home, perhaps for a prolonged period of time. Or die of cancer, a heart attack, or maybe be killed in an auto accident. Normal uncertainties I have no way of predicting the outcome of. Anymore than I can predict whether any of those more drastic concerns will ever affect me or us.

I’ll be honest. By nature, I tend to be a worrier. Or at least a fretter. (Not talking about my guitar playing.) But the older I’ve grown, the more I’ve learned to depend on God. As the old spiritual says, “He’s got the whole world in His hands.” I’ve reached the point I’d go crazy if I weren’t able to put as much faith as possible into that belief.

In that first Andy Stanley video, he introduced a short–but very appropriate–statement: Uncertainty is unavoidable; fear is optional.

Cool, huh?

I don’t think many of us would argue that uncertainty is here to stay. Especially as the possibilities we’re uncertain about  grow more and more drastic.

Christians don’t need to fear the things we feel uncertain about, though. Andy Stanley reminded us of this advice Jesus gave His disciples:

Stop being afraid of those who kill the body but can’t kill the soul. Instead, be afraid of the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell.  (Matthew 10:28, NIV)

With the prospect of eternity in Heaven, what difference does uncertainty about our earthly future make? When I think about that, my former fears tend to melt away. I feel much braver. Yes, braver. And much more capable of facing uncertainty with confidence.

Yes, someone can kill my body, but that doesn’t destroy my faith in the One who’s the keeper of my soul.

Andy Stanley is right. Fear is optional, and my choice is to put my hand in God’s and put fear further and further behind me.

What about you? Do you worry about the uncertainties of life? How about sharing a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

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Best regards,
Roger

Afraid of Being Too Close to the Edge

When Maureen, the older of my two stepdaughters, visited my wife and me for Thanksgiving this year, we had some spirited discussions. But what really caught my attention were her comments about para-sailing  and wanting to do sky diving sometime–and obviously meaning it.

Okay, Maureen. More power to you, girl. I was the only one in my group who didn’t even go zip gliding in Nicaragua.

For many years I’ve thought of myself as acrophobic–afraid of heights. I’m not as bad about that now as I used to be, though, and I don’t think I ever totally panicked when I was in a high place.

I’d never flown until I was in my early-to-mid twenties. Not because I was afraid of it. I’d just never needed to or had the opportunity to.

But my landlord owned a small plane, and when he invited me to look at our part of Maryland’s beautiful Eastern Shore from the air, I jumped at the chance. I felt vaguely uncomfortable being up there, especially since the plane was so small, but I didn’t hesitate when my first need to fly on a commercial flight arose a short time later.

But I remember two specific instances when I almost panicked under different circumstances. Both while I was an adult.

I worked summers at a conference center in North Carolina, and one summer I was in charge of filling the numerous canned drink machines throughout the campus. To do that, I loaded a van with what I thought I would need each day and headed off to get as close as I could to each machine to avoid toting the drinks any further than necessary.

The catch was leaving the storage office. A seven or eight foot drop beside the parking lot required some careful maneuvering in a heavily loaded vehicle that came complete with a stick shift. As far as I recall, I panicked every day until I’d safely made that turn.

The other instance took place in the nearby Smoky Mountains. I’d stopped at an overview to look at the distant scenery, but as I approached the wall that was meant to protect people from the severe drop on the other side, I couldn’t do it. I was terrified. So terrified that I finally had to crawl up to the wall on my hands and knees. Even then, was I evermore relieved to get away from that place.

So, there you have it. Maybe I’m not actually afraid of heights–I’ve climbed a few ladders I should’ve been more afraid of–but of being too close to the edge.

Hmm. Wonder if there’s a phobia-word for that.

Are you afraid of anything in an almost-phobic way? How about sharing it with us via a comment?

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.

Best regards,
Roger