Category Archives: Uncategorized

A quick thought

Government Control is a very poor substitute for self control.

Fear of Forgetting

Losing a spouse is incredibly difficult, especially when that loss is abrupt and the result of violence. It’s even scarier when their death immediately impacts where you live and how you live. For example, military widows/widowers typically have a thirty day window to pack up and leave base housing. Imagine needing to bury a loved one, move out of your house, find a place to live, and deal with a multitude of details all at once. I’ve seen it happen, although I have not experienced it personally, and I felt traumatized even though I wasn’t the grieving spouse.

I’ve had several friends lose their husbands to aircraft accidents and suicides. After the initial shock, one of the most prominent concerns, besides loneliness and grief, that these ladies have is the fear of forgetting their husband’s voice, face, smell…all of the little details that we notice about people with whom we are intimate. They are also terrified that others who knew the person will forget too and live life as though they never existed. There is a fear of losing the life and memory of a loved one into the black hole of forgetfulness.

Maybe its merely my perspective, but this is even more poignant in the military community, because often the person who died was someone others trusted to take a bullet on behalf of an entire team of people and perhaps that is how they died. They were the wingman everyone wanted to fly with because they were steady, reliable, and unlikely to freak out when all hell broke loose. The grief seems deeper somehow because that person was quite literally a hero to their comrades. Often, there is guilt because other soldiers survived, perhaps, at the expense of the one who fell. The pain is even worse when wingmen and brothers/sisters in arms witnessed the tragedy. It becomes a life’s purpose to the widow (or widower) and to the brothers in arms to keep that memory alive; to make sure that they did not die in vain. We remember death dates, some of us wear a cuff bracelet with that person’s name, and others ink a commemoration onto their body. All of these symbols are a means of remembering, and showing that we remember, to those around us. It gives an opportunity to talk, share grief, and recount how incredible that person was.

One of my fondest memories was of my husband’s squadron commander in the 12th Fighter Squadron, also known as ‘The Dirty Dozen.’ His name was Pugs and he was pugnacious. In Air Force speak, he was what we call a “chest poker.” Because his personality was so assertive, people either really liked him or really didn’t. I was, and am, a HUGE fan. Unlike many commanders, Pugs treated the wives like we mattered. If the system was broken and we weren’t getting the necessary care, he would move heaven and earth to change that, with no fear of hacking off the wrong person. My own personal story that made me love him with extra devotion had to do with my second pregnancy. The guys were all deployed to Singapore for a joint exercise. Naturally, the wives were left at home with our kids and each other, but we were in Alaska which meant we really had to rely on one another when we got into a pinch. At any rate, I had a three year old and I was 20 weeks pregnant. For some reason, I felt awful! I was at a friend’s house for a kid’s pumpkin decorating contest and I felt so badly that I was rude enough to ask if I could lay in her bed (tacky but desperate!). It occurred to me that I should probably go to the hospital and have an obstetrician evaluate me and the baby even though I was sure everything was okay. Two hours later, my commander’s wife called her husband Pugs to let him know that I was in labor. I felt certain I would be delivering a pre-term son and losing him all before my husband could get back to the states, if the Air Force would fly him back. Pugs made sure that Brad was on the first flight back. In truth, he could have let me suck it up and deal with it all alone. Seventy two hours later, my husband walked into my hospital room and I lost every shred of remaining composure. I spent a great deal of time in the hospital with my son (we stopped having kids after that) and Pugs and his wife would even come see me in the hospital. There just aren’t words to describe how Pugs’ care for me made me love him (platonically) but unreservedly.

Several years later, I got a phone call out of the blue. Pugs was dead. We were all in shock. We were all immediately concerned for his wife and child. Many, many people who served with him dropped everything in order to make it to the memorial service in Alaska and then to the burial at Arlington. We loved him, because, quite simply, he loved his people. To this day, we remember him and stay in touch with others who knew him too. We try to check in on his family, because they matter to us.

As I’ve been thinking about friends we’ve lost and my friends who have lost their husbands, I’ve been struck by the fact that I can’t forget them. They helped to make me who I am today. But I can see that some people do forget. Maybe their experience with that person was different or emotionally they are able to compartmentalize.

As I was sitting in church today and trying to remember people who need prayer because of angelversaries, I felt Jesus whisper to me. You see, I all too easily forget the hero that Jesus is and how he saved me from my sin and how he saves me from myself each and every day. I forget about him and the pain he suffered on my behalf. He was steady in the Garden of Gethsemane, he was reliable during a horrific beating and when dragging that heavy cross through the streets. He loved me so much that He never threw me under the bus and condemned me. He loved me so much that he literally moved heaven and earth, and descended into hell, so that I’d be safe eternally. Sometimes I’m so worried about not forgetting people, and I end up forgetting God instead.

NCC 2015 Poem

If friendship was a quilt and each country a square,
we would all have a blanket with warmth to share.
A comforter big enough to cover us all,
to lend us its warmth from largest to small.
Now as we travel each back to their land,
we send our warm wishes and entrust to God’s hand
Our comings and goings, the lives that we lead,
so joy and peace grow from each tender seed.
Farewell and safe travels until next we see,
Our dear friends and family from NCC.

Reflecting Light

Most people have a hobby they adore. It can something that ignites the intellect or stills the mind. Hours can seem like seconds when spent doing what one thoroughly enjoys. My son loves Legos and he’s been collecting them for years.  During periods of stress, I’ve found that if I pick up a small set, he can spend an entire day assembling one and playing with it. His mind focuses so intently on building a functioning piece that everything else recedes into the distance. He describes working on Legos as his ‘happy place.”  (I have to remind myself just how much he cherishes them each time I step on one barefoot ’cause that hurts in ways that polite words cannot describe!)

For my daughter, it’s drawing.  She spends hours closeted away in her room with Manga books, drawing models, body positions, facial expressions.  It is not a stretch to say that she has even doodled all over her bookcases and bed set. But it brings her joy and I find myself treasuring a peek at life through her perspective. I’m able to see how she feels about something without her having to use words, something she is fairly short of to begin with, and so I cherish each little scrap of paper she draws on.


My “hobby” is jewelry and gemstones.  I’m fascinated by all of the different types of crystals, how they form under immense pressure, what trace elements give them their color, and where they are found geographically. I also love the history of gemstones and the methods for cutting them. Different types of cutting techniques are often associated with a specific era given the materials that were available to shape a gem. What was ‘ideal’ in the 1880’s is less than ‘ideal’ now because we can use computerized cutting to achieve more exacting dimensions. Gemstones have been sought after for thousands of years both as objects of beauty and even as medicine. Ancient Egyptians used certain stones as medicine and would place a stone under their tongue like we might a sublingual tablet to treat specific ailments. Gemstones are even specifically referenced in the Bible.

There is nothing I love more than visiting antique shops and estate jewelers even if I can’t buy anything. Every now and then I’ll trip across something absolutely incredible which I’ve only ever read about but never seen in person. I’m known to ask little old ladies in grocery stores about the rings they wear and I want to hear the story behind each piece if they are willing to share. Somehow, for me, there is something about a piece of jewelry that captures memory and history in an object which renders it more precious than the monetary value of it. I suppose in some ways, I feel a parallel between an object which is valuable because of where it came from and who gave it to me and humanity. We are more than the sum of our parts. We embody experience, history, memory, and value to those around us.

At any rate, perhaps the most important aspect of a gem from both a beauty and technical standpoint is how a gem captures and returns light to the viewer. Gems worth using for jewelry are typically intense in color and fairly free of internal characteristics that would cause them to look muddy. A well cut gem reflects light back up through the top of the gem so the viewer receives the maximum light refraction and sparkle. Here’s an example of what well cut versus poorly cut diamonds look like:


The diagram of the ideal cut diamond demonstrates that most of the light is returned through the top of the gem as I mentioned above. The poorly cut gem on the far right is not as beautiful to the viewer, because most of the light is lost through the side and back of the gem. There’s very little sparkle for the wearer to enjoy and it is far less valuable and beautiful.

Have you ever met someone who was just incredibly beautiful in their soul; the kind of person that you know has been to proverbial hell and back and still sees the beauty in life? The person who is so gentle and at peace that you would trust them to hold your hand in your darkest moment? I think in some ways we’re like gemstones. We’re each unique in our own way and we have inherent, intrinsic value. The question is: are we reflecting the light? Are we allowing God to cut us in such a way that His light is reflected outward to those around us? Do they see the beauty of His light in us? I hope that any brilliance I have is because of Him and that other’s feel His love and light in my life.

Problems with my site

Just a quick note, I am having problems with my titles. Please bear with me as I figure this out.


Animal Research, Human Abortion, & The Problem of Pain

Animal Research, Human Abortion, & the Problem of Pain
Many years ago, I had the distinct privilege of working under Dr. Andrew Whipple as his research assistant. Our goal was to harvest primary rat hepatocytes and then develop a serum free in vitro culture medium that sustained the cells. The purpose of serum free culture medium is that serum is a blood product. It varies greatly depending on the source, what the blood contributor has eaten, their physiological stress (hormones affect everything). Thus, there is an entire set of variables that cannot be accounted for while using serum in in vitro culturing. The elimination of the need for serum based medium allows researchers a greater opportunity to qualify and quantify exactly what is working in that carefully controlled environment. Needless to say, as an assistant, one of my jobs was the care and feeding of rats. That was one FUN summer job! In case you’ve never kept, cared for, fed, and cleaned up after fifty rats, there is no real way to describe the smell or the fun factor in that job. Mike Rowe-Come on over!

At any rate, we were careful and responsible for ensuring the animals did not suffer, that they had enough food and water and that we kept them in clean environments. I might have only gotten paid $5/hour, but I like to think I did my job well. All my friends know that I HATE urine and feces (I’m a little like the character Monk if I’m honest with myself.) and I took great care of them. When it came time to harvest the hepatocytes (a fancy word for liver cells), the animal was anesthetized and I inserted a canalula into the hepatic portal vein (the main vein that feeds into the liver), perfused a substance that liberated the cells from the matrix of the liver, and then extracted the liver within its capsule. Each rat died under anesthesia and pain free. I did not take the life of a rat lightly! Nor did my professor. We treated them with care and respect during the entire process. We would have operated in a pain free, humane manner as a matter of course because these are God’s creatures. However, there are laws that guide this process in America, although there are some deficiencies in the way the law is applied. At this time, there are proposals to modify the law to improve some of the lapses that have occurred.

Here is an excerpt from the text of the Animal Welfare Act: “AWA stipulates that researchers “… avoid or minimize discomfort, distress, and pain to the animals,” procedures that cause pain and distress merely require that the “principal investigator has considered alternatives to procedures that may cause more than momentary or slight pain or distress to the animals, and has provided a written narrative description of the methods and sources…used to determine that alternatives were not available.” While the AWA “requires researchers to provide anesthesia or pain-relieving medication [to regulated animals] to minimize the pain or distress caused by the experiment…,” they can withhold anesthetics, painkillers, and tranquilizers if deemed “scientifically necessary.” Please note that no such legislation exists for aborted children.

PETA versus People
I have friends (true friends!) who are anti animal testing. They deeply empathize with the pain and suffering of an animal and feel that it is immoral to take the life of an animal for our own purposes. While I appreciate their heart and concern, some of these same friends are completely pro abortion. How is it that we can protect, boycott, and trumpet from a perceived moral high ground about animal rights when we don’t even give the same care to an unborn child? From a logical standpoint, these two issues and logical arguments contradict one another. The Animal Welfare Act works to ensure that animals do not suffer in the process of research and/or death. Where is the same outrage for human children?

Proponents of abortion call it a health issue, and admittedly sometimes it is. I am for an abortion when the mother’s life is in danger. Although many of my Christian friends would disagree (respectfully I hope) with me on this matter, I am also for an abortion when a mother is pregnant with an anencephalic child. [The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) describes the presentation of this condition as follows: “A baby born with anencephaly is usually blind, deaf, unaware of its surroundings and unable to feel pain. Although some individuals with anencephaly may be born with a main brain stem, the lack of a functioning cerebrum permanently rules out the possibility of ever gaining awareness of their surroundings. Reflex actions such as breathing and responses to sound or touch may occur.”[4]]

However, the vast majority of abortions are the result of a decision about convenience. The argument is, “It’s MY body!” Actually, it isn’t your body. It is the body of your unborn child, and that is no small matter. The fact that someone else’s body is inside your body places a profound moral obligation upon each and every woman. It is even more imperative when we consider the indescribable pain these babies experience during abortion.

Planned Parenthood’s website describes in clinic abortions methods as: Aspiration and “Dilation & Evacuation.”(D&E) Aspiration is “a procedure that ends pregnancy by emptying the uterus with the gentle suction of a manual syringe or with machine-operated suction.” This procedure is used until up to four months of pregnancy. The Planned Parenthood website ‘could not find a definition for D&E. WebMd defines D&E as “Dilation and evacuation (D&E) is done in the second 12 weeks (second trimester) of pregnancy. It usually includes a combination of vacuum aspiration, dilation and curettage (D&C), and the use of surgical instruments (such as forceps). In both types of in-clinic, surgical abortion the baby is literally pulled apart from limb to limb without the benefit of any anesthesia. 2010 numbers from the Centers for Disease Control indicate there were 750,000 abortions! Where is the outrage and concern for all of these children who suffered a horrific, barbaric death?

I am certain that this will be deeply controversial on both sides of the political aisle. However, I believe that at the very least, we should propose and implement a law that provides for a pain free death for these little children who will never have a life and have no say in their own death. That should be our first push in legislation.

There is also a second area of dissonance. Many of the very people who are against animal testing are FOR using human embryonic tissue for medical testing. WHATTHEHECK? I am not going to lie. Human embryonic material is powerful stuff! It holds the opportunity to understand and cure diseases we’ve been fighting for years. What we really must ask ourselves is this: Do the ends justify the means? And, Is there another way? This is a rather strong statement, but consider this: much of the foundation for current medicine was developed during the holocaust; experiments performed on people that Hitler didn’t want. They were expendable. In that same way, we have objectified an entire population of people we don’t want, and we are using them to further our own medical interests. The whole “It’s for a good cause” just doesn’t wash here.

As a society, we need to examine our priorities and our logic. We must consider the contrast of how we applaud humane treatment of animals and then turn our backs on the suffering of unborn children. This is an issue that deadens our approach to life and leads to a life of selfishness with little or no regard for the suffering of others. Abortion is a weighty issue, and it deserves serious thought.

The Guys Have Gone To Vegas! (To the 27th Wives)

The guys have gone to Vegas, yes they have flown the coop;
And so it stands to reason, I’m ten feet deep in poop.
From noses to bottoms, I get to clean them all,
Including the potty that’s floating down the hall.

Now I like home improvement, but this one is a bummer,
Because I never planned on learning to become a plumber.
I went into the restroom to see that all was cool,
And make sure there weren’t any sharks ‘swimming in the pool.’

Something was amiss, there was no water in the bowl,
So I leaned in a bit closer and gave the knob a pull.
I lept back in revulsion as the toilet gave a rend,
And vomited back at me the contents hiding ’round the bend.

I plunged, and yelled, and plunged but it wasn’t any use.
Why is it that when hubby’s gone, life gives me this abuse?
Off I go to Wal-Mart to find myself a snake,
A tool from which ‘occlusions’ cannot hope to escape.

I’m knee deep in poop and it occurs to me,
That while I’m at this task I should charge a handsome fee!
The pay ain’t much and I demand a raise,
For everyone one of us who has had this kind of day.

So, let’s all have a laugh-this one is on me.
Here’s to the Air Force Wives and my victory!

The Presence of Absence

Relationships with family are often incredibly difficult to navigate in a healthy way.  Maybe it’s because there is so much water under the bridge or that our expectations for tomorrow defy a lifetime of interpersonal history.  Perhaps, we are hoping for more than one person is capable of giving, or even hoping for someone to be able to share something they don’t even possess to begin with.

I’ve been struggling with a relationship in my own life.  There is a person whom I love so dearly and with whom I share a lot of history.  Everything about this relationship hurts…being without them grieves me more deeply than words can express.  I feel alone and unmoored as though my life began and unfolded with no context.  Being around them clarifies the neglect and lack of care that I experience.  When I’m there, the lack of time we spend together brings into focus just how little I seem to matter.  There don’t seem to be any good options left at my disposal and I have tried everything I know to achieve a solution.

The other day, I was mulling how to put into words exactly how I feel about this person and this relationship that means so much.  I’ve decided that perhaps the best way to describe my emotion is to describe how I think I will feel when they die.  It seems a very stark thing to put into writing, and indeed it is.  What I will miss the most about them is what they WEREN’T instead of what they WERE when they lived on this earth with me.  I will grieve the times we didn’t spend together, those moments missed which even now make me weep.  I’ve said everything there is to say, I’ve done everything I’ve known to do, I’ve prayed more prayers than I can count, and shed innumerable tears.  Still, this person chooses everyone and everything but me-and I’m supposed to be someone who would be significant.  Their absence is as real and as tangible as their presence ever has been.

After years of one sidedly trying to fix this, I find myself utterly exhausted and completely without any more emotional reserve to pour into the vacuum.  Finally, I’m willing to let this go.  My husband wisely pointed out that we wanted different things and we had a difference of perception in identifying problems.  I sought a deep, abiding relationship in which truth could be spoken because it was safe.  My problem is that they didn’t want to spend and/or waste time.  They seemed to want a glossy brochure advertisement to show others as evidence of a life of substance when depth was lacking.  In their arena, one has to stand in line for acknowledgement and the field is flooded with sycophants.  Maybe their only problem was that I’d been unwilling to ‘go along to get along’ this entire time, which rendered me inconvenient.

I’m finally having to confront myself on this too.  Why have I allowed this to go on so long?  Am I contributing in a positive way or a negative way to this dynamic?  Sometimes in families we are so close to a situation that we can’t affect change, because we are part of the overall organism itself.  I’ve also had to look myself in the eye and realize that I own some of this ugly.  I feel angry and bitter.  I want more but there isn’t enough to go around.  I must be willing to let this go and let God have it.  Evidently I have been unwilling to come to this decision until now.

I’ve been praying and confessing my sin.  Yes anger is normal, but bitterness and the cultivation of it is sin.  God is also convicting me that my cup truly is half full.  There are some lovely gems in that history and I have much to be thankful for.  What I’m really realizing is that if I continue on the current course, I’ll end up perpetuating relationships that are similar.  More than anything, this is what I do not want.  I’m unwilling to live in the past and end up sacrificing my future on that altar.

I’ve been working on this thought, this essay, and bringing it before God for about a month.  Until now, I’ve felt unable to release my thoughts in a meaningful way.  Then this morning, as He often does, God gently revealed himself.  Bible Gateway’s verse of the day was from 2 Corinthians 5 , so I read the entire chapter.  I’ve chosen the New King James Version, because of the specific wording in verses 5:5-8 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5 New King James Version (NKJV)

Jesus reminded me today that He knows all about absence.  Jesus absented himself from the presence of His father so that he could be present with us on earth, that he might sacrifice himself for our sin.  He felt the abject misery of having his own Father turn his back on him when he was on the cross.  When Jesus left to prepare a place for us, he sent the Holy Spirit to be present with us as a comfort during this time of separation.  As eternal beings created in God’s image, we are programmed so that we feel both absence and presence.  We experience the friction between the ‘what is’ and the ‘what should be.’  While we live in these mortal bodies, our souls are longing for something more and complete.  God himself is the answer to my needs, my inner longings, and I can trust him with the broken pieces until he calls me home.

Does God determine the exact time of our death?

Does God determine the exact time of our death?.

From Athens to America, A War of Attrition

I’m a band mom.  If you are one too, you know that means coughing up a lot of money so that your child can participate.  It also requires a lot of personal involvement.  Marching band camp, Gatorade, sore feet, sweaty laundry that smells like goat, and extensive complaining hog up summers that were supposed to be idyllic and spent by the pool.  Fund raisers for outrageously expensive cookie dough, car washes, candles, butter braids, and march-athons are subsidized by parents who are too horrified to ask friends and family for money when we know it’s tight right now for everyone.  There is no way to limit band from controlling the first semester of each year.  Oh, and there are concerts, lots of them!

At Christmas, I mean Kwanzanukahmadon (also known as ‘Festivus for the restofus if you’re a Seinfeld fan), I was irritated to be sitting in yet another concert and insulted to have been charged $20 to finally see what all of our family money has been going towards.  It was hot, the seats were uncomfortable, and I was praying (yes in a public building no less) that it would be over sooner rather than later.  For two hours, my ears were assaulted by a band that has a very high opinion of itself.  However, I can report that on more than one occasion, it sounded more like a cow was dying somewhere rather than a practiced symphonic band.  So I fixed a polite, “I am thrilled to be here” look on my face, gritted my teeth, and willed myself through the two hour long event.

I was saddened.  We heard music from the Sioux tradition which was a song called “Make Peace, Not War” and had a theme that was far more 1960’s hippie than Sioux (who were known for being one of the fiercest, fightingest tribes).  We heard music based on ancient Hebrew and there was some animated movement with little finger symbols.  Students performed non religious Santa oriented songs.  I hoped to hear about the birth of Christ!  My soul was longing for Christmas not to be diluted in a sea of tolerance.  Finally, a senior stood up to deliver her performance, her final senior project.  The choir director took the microphone and issued the only disclaimer I heard the entire evening.  “This song entitled Mary Did You Know was chosen by this student as her personal senior project.”  Finally, the audience heard a song about Jesus!

A few days later, I was reading in Acts 17.  Paul had been to Thessalonica, Berea, and finally Athens.  As Paul was waiting on his friends, the Bible says ‘his spirit was provoked within him because he saw that the city was given over to idols.” (v16)  Then Paul did what he always did.  He went to the Synagogue and to the marketplace.  He reasoned with people of the faith community and with others as they happened to be there.  At some point, he caught the attention of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers.  During that time in history, these two schools of thought were the predominant philosophies.  Epicureans did not necessarily believe in an afterlife although they did believe in gods.  They sought to achieve happiness in the ‘here and now’ through contentment, friendship, and pleasure.  Stoics were pantheistic and believed in living a virtuous life but that sin was the result of ignorance not evil or ill will.

Paul, being the extremely well educated man that he was, evidently impressed them and so he received an invitation to the Aeropagus, which was the earliest aristocratic council of Athens.  Men sat and exchanged ideas with one another; this forum was where men of intellect, status, and learning went to see and be seen.  It is apparent that Paul jumped in with both feet:  “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious, for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.”  Then and there, Paul preached to them about this God of whom they had never heard.  My favorite part is when Paul says, “so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us…”  From that moment on, Athens had knowledge it had never before possessed and the match of faith, the light of Christ, was ignited in that region.

Upon reading this passage, reality slammed into me.  We in America have been told about the Great I Am.  We have cut our teeth on the song “Jesus Loves Me!”  As a rule, Christ is not unknown to us.  Instead of having an altar to an unknown god, our society is busily demolishing altars, crosses, and monuments to the one true God.  The God we already know!  And simultaneously, we are erecting altars to gods whom we do not know and embracing philosophies whose costs will not be estimable until we reach eternity.

There’s a proverbial saying, “better the devil you know than the one you don’t.”  I look at how as a nation we are apologizing for our belief in Christ and our history of Christianity.  I can only wonder, why would we pick and/or prefer another?  Matthew 11 promises,“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Why would we apologize for a faithful God who loves us so dearly and who longs for us to find rest for our souls?

I always tell my children, “There are two ways you can do this.  You can pick the easy way or the hard way.”  In America, it seems that we are, in fact, picking the hard way.  Attrition, which is the act or process of weakening and gradually defeating an enemy through constant attacks and continued pressure over a long period of time, is eroding the identity and history we had as a God fearing nation.  It saddens me to see our country rolling over in defeat as though godlessness or pantheism is somehow a foregone conclusion.  What a tragic shift of sinful paradigms brought us from Athens, where God was introduced to a society that thought of itself as illuminated and forward leaning, to America where any reference and commitment to Jesus Christ immediately marginalizes the believer to a shallow gene pool occupied by less evolved, under educated ingrates.

Because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever He has not changed.  It is you and I and our society who have changed.  As a whole, we are religious.  The name of our new church is ‘tolerance,’ which doesn’t mean treating each other as people who are equal, have equal value, and are made in God’s image.  Instead tolerance means that all ideas and faiths (with the exception of Christianity because that is politically incorrect and passe) are equally valid and have equal merit, even when they don’t.  And building a house on that sand is not a house that I want to live in.