Guest Blogger, Ab Kastl: Mind the Queue

 

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Several days ago, I asked a few friends to write guest blogs about this divisive, explosive election.  One of the people I asked was my good friend Ab Kastl, who, like me, grew up in the same part of the country, went to Ozark Christian College and has lived in Southern California for over 20 years.  So, we share many of the same influences if not the same perspectives.  We often disagree politically.  But he was glad to offer his reflection on the election, why it went the way it did, and also what his hopes for this country are.  If you are led to comment, whether on here or on Facebook, in agreement or disagreement, I do ask that your comments be respectful.  And if you are inspired to write your own guest blog about this election, by all means, I’d love to hear from you.

 

Mind the Queue

“What has happened to the USA?” asked my good friend from England…the same England that voted for the Brexit. What made them vote for the Brexit? What made the USA vote for Trump? Being from Oklahoma, I hear the grumblings of so many out there in the Mid-west. Oh, stewardess! I speak redneck. There is a sense by so many in the fly over states of things being out of control (borders, spending, security, etc.….out of control). Allow me share what I passed to my friend who lives across the pond in the country where they love showing off their politeness by excessive queueing.

Let me queue up some observations on maybe why Trump got elected ……
1. Bernie Sanders really got screwed. The emails showed the Democratic Party cheated him to push Hillary through. Debbie Wassermann Shultz got the boot because it was clear they sabotaged Bernie. So many are frustrated that he got screwed it was too late to change anything so they had to go with Hillary. So many who were disenfranchised with the system being out of control probably did not go vote for Hillary.

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2. Hillary has more baggage than (name your 3 favorite airlines here). The Midwest folks are military loving diehards. The Benghazi attack on 9-11 was four fresh year ago. That it happened on the anniversary of 9-11 and Hillary Clinton did not respond properly and then blamed a YouTube video puts a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouth. Then she went the extra mile to erase anything related to it while she was under subpoena doesn’t look good. Destroyed computers and phones equals shady biz. One of the silliest lies she told a while back was sharing a false story in a speech about landing in Bosnia under sniper fire (remember how people were turned off when Brian Williams said such things?). She went into specific details and they were all lies. I know it seems like it is no big deal but it does show the extent she is willing to go to lie on something that is not even controversial This is not good when you are trying to get some good ole boy famer out in Iowa to show up and vote for you.
3. The Obama family wins in the “Classiest Looking Family” category. President Obama was not as strategically successful as we hoped. Obama’s health care plan was forced on the American public with zero support from the other side. The numbers did not add up but he did not care…he forced it through. We were told to pass 20,000 pages of confusion and then we will see what is in it. His cabinet begged him to go golfing with people from the opposing side in order to find some common ground. He refused. Instead of doing the necessary leg work all presidents have to do to find compromise, President Obama said “Elections have consequences. I won.” He told the other side they had to “sit in the back of the bus.” Recently, health care rates are starting to double and many, including Democrats are upset and concerned. This probably motivated a lot of the middle of the road voters to go another way.

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4. Immigration feels out of control here. Immigration is the backbone and pillar of America. There has to be limits, rules and lines. Way back, Ellis Island was the first stop for so many. Everyone understood that is part of the process. Not anymore. In a land of many laws, breaking the law as your first action here does not sit well with many. When so many show up, who’s jobs get taken away? Remember that 70’s movie Car Wash? African Americans dominated that works force in the 70’s….not anymore. So many jobs African Americans filled are now filled by our neighbors from the South. More black people voted Republican (Trump) than ever before. 30% of Hispanics voted for Trump. Why would they? Maybe because they have seen what it is like to live in countries that are out of control. Trump definitely tapped into Americans feeling out of control.

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5. The media here does slant a certain way. This upsets the people named Jim Bob and Genevieve. That is why they are so loyal to Fox News….They like Fox because they get a sense of balance and control in a topsy-turvy feeling world. Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Michigan strongly voted for President Obama last time but went for Trump this time (Some say this shows the statement “Everyone who voted for Trump is a racist.” is false?). Those are hardworking blue collar states. So, Trump yelping about creating jobs sounds appealing to these states. Americans don’t want to feel so out of control.
I try not to cuss at or around my two kids. I am no goodie-goodie. I just remember as a kid the adults who never cussed and then all the sudden they wanted emphasis would slipped in a cuss word and BOOM, they have my attention. I knew they meant business. I knew I better sit up, pay attention and focus on what they wanted done. But the coaches, old bosses or relatives who cussed at me all the time and everyday…Yawn….same old same old. Who cares what they say? No one really. The same could be said of people who are so quick to call other people who they do not agree with “racists”. The broken record gets ignored. I know Trump said some bold things that have been interpreted as racist. Calling someone a racist no longer has any power or effect. Every Republican has been accused of being a racist. George W Bush was called a racist for not helping Katrina victims fast enough. McCain was called a racist because he questioned President Obama’s black pastor Jeremiah Wright and he referred to Barak Obama as “that one”. Romney was called racist because he used “dog-whistle” language like “free stuff”, “welfare” and “Chicago”. Now, anyone who voted for Trump is being called a racist. It is so overly used it has no effect. It pushed people to vote against the accusers even if the person they are voting for is a mess.
Not everyone who wants a controlled borders hates Mexicans. Not everyone who questions climate change is anti-science. Not everyone who did not get excited about President Obama is a racist. To be accused of these things creates that feeling of a society out of control. If you accused others of such things….maybe you helped Trump get elected?

I told myself before the election “Whichever way it goes, the USA will be just fine.” We have a system that has checks and balances. If Trump or Hillary wins and is a mess, we will give them the boot in four years.
Like it or not, we have some of that deep English heritage intertwined in the DNA of the USA. Deep down, we crave those organized queues. We know we have a good thing going here and to have that sense of chaos is unsettling. Things were feeling out of control. Maybe 2016 was just a sloppy shake up to try to get us back in queue.

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Guest Blogger, Ab Kastl: Plan B

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 A couple of weeks ago, I asked my Bible college roommate, Ab, if he would like to write a guest blog.  I don’t usually “assign” topics, but I asked him if he would be willing to write about something that I think about and write about frequently, the relationship between the conservative Christian community and the gay community.  Clearly, there are things we disagree about (I LOVE RUPAUL!!), but I think there are many more areas where we see eye to eye.  Not the least of which, those college years were among the years I laughed the hardest, too, and you should know, Ab Kastl was responsible for many of those laughs.  

Plan B

Hey Everybody! I was Ray’s college roommate for a few years back in the late 80s.  Those are the years I laughed the hardest in my life.  

                       

I am one scatter brained individual.  I am sure you probably struggle with being distracted every now and then.   I am so scatter brained I am thinking about 3 other things right now (food, the news, what I have to do tomorrow) while I should be focused on this blog. I am always thinking “I could be doing something else and maybe that would be better”. What could be my plan B? 

We all decide what we will invest our brain power in.  I am guilty of often focusing on the negative.  I have perfected the art of remembering every nit-picky thing someone has ever done.  If I focus on the negative in others, it justifies in my mind whenever I want to blow them off.

I am a conservative Christian minister….did I lose ya?  Did you just think of three reasons to blow off anything else I say from here on out? Did images of Pat Robertson and Jimmy Swaggart creep into your mind? If not, yea!! If so, you are normal.  

It is easy to highlight the negative in some ministers, Christians or churches so we don’t have to invest much in what they are about.

I read the huffingtonpost.com everyday, so I often hear the negative about what people are saying about ministers and churches.  

I think all of us have trained our minds to jump to certain images of certain groups because we don’t want to invest our time in what they offer. It would be foolish if I compared all gay people to RuPaul or the most flamboyant group from a gay pride day float. That would be like lumping all Christians with what Pat Robertson says or what the Westburo Baptist Church says.  Pat_Robertson

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 I have been a minister for 25 years involved with conservative churches in the Midwest and Southern California and I have never heard of anyone from any church ever reading, quoting or teaching from anything Pat Robertson has ever said. Obviously he has some niche out there, but I am sure they are a hospice away from the afterlife. 

And regarding the Westburo Baptist Church, I have not hung out there in years….I kid, I kid.. I was testing to see if I lost ya or not.   They are a twelve member family cult of hate that has nothing to do with real Christianity or the bible.
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2364680621_058246f136All of us are working on things in our life.  We all have things from our past that have thrown us off in life.  My big challenge growing up was coming from a family of a nasty divorce, feeling insecure, and dealing with being molested.  

I was molested as a child by a neighbor and family friend. If I judged all neighbors and family friends by the acts of this one, would that be right? If you judge all Christians by the acts of some, would that be right?

 I have never had food poisoning from a restaurant, but if I did it would be silly for me to say “I AM NEVER EATING AT ANY RESTAURANT EVER AGAIN!”.  I think the same can apply to churches.  If you get burned at one, don’t use that as ammo for the rest of your life to never get involved and get nourishment from another.  We all need food and we all crave to fill that spiritual hole in our heart. I did not have much real peace or joy in my life until I invested my life in the love of God through the church.  

I can honestly say many churches have realized they have failed in bridging a connection to the gay community and they are trying to improve.  They know they got caught up in quickly cutting them off instead of reaching out to all people as God’s children made in His image.  Many churches and leaders are investing time in books like “Unchristian” and “When Christians Get it Wrong” which tackle how Christians need to overcome this gap and be more consistent with loving all people. More and more churches are letting their members know they are a place of love and Jesus was inclusive and they must be also.   

I work with an average bible believing church here in Southern California (not far from Orange County).  A few years back a couple of guys showed up every Sunday. I was guessing they were a gay couple. They brought two young kids to Sunday School and then sat together in church.  They were welcomed with love and joy. They got more and more involved. Everyone loved them.  Come to find out they were father and son but they looked about the same age. I was curious if others thought they were a gay couple. When I asked around, everyone I talked to assumed they were a gay couple but no one said anything negative or demanded a meeting to run them off.  They were loved and accepted as is and stayed until they moved out of the area.  I was proud of our church that no one skipped a beat. 

More recently, a couple of divorced ladies in our church developed a friendship that has evolved into more than a friendship.  No one has shunned them, made them feel unaccepted or demand they “turn or burn”.  They have been deeply involved in church and everyone loves them. Somewhere out there is a church that you can serve, learn, love and grow closer to God. 

I guess the dominate point of this is to pep talk us all to stay focused on what we can do.  I am challenging myself to focus on all people being God’s creation loved by Him and treat them as God would and to speak up when I others do not treat them properly. I challenge you to focus on God and His plan for your life through involvement in a church.  If you are involved in a church, that is great, get in there and serve God and others with all your heart.   If you have not even thought about investing any time in a church, maybe give it a second to look into why God set up such a gathering.  It has taken some time, but things are moving towards lots of love for all God’s children. 

Just like anything, you have to go shopping and searching to find out if it is a good match for you…. for a job, for a car, for a church.  If you visit a church and it is not a good match, go check out another until you come to one that is full of love and celebrates His plan for your life.  

Most of the time dealing with people can be difficult.  Sometimes as a minister, I fantasize about flipping burgers instead of dealing with some people and all their drama. With a big grin, in total bliss, my only worry would be to get that patty over at just the right time….ahh, glorious. Life without the church often sounds appealing, but it was through the church God chose to let the world know His plan and see His love. There is no Plan B.