This week

Confession: This week I spoke a greater volume of ridiculous words than I ever intended to. Some of them I cannot recall without a wave of horror. Chances are, if you had an email, text or personal conversation with me this week, I made a fool of myself.

This week I lay on my couch a lot, with back pain.

This week I heard words of folly from a man sought out for his wisdom.

This week I read a horrifying story of epilepsy in a little girl whose mother I love.

This week I got news that a childhood friend passed away from cancer.

This week a voice on the phone said, “I’d rather you heard it from me than from another source…”

This week, the day I planned to spend with my grandma fell through. And the weekend I planned with my sister. And the visit I planned with a close friend and her daughters.

This week I failed a test or two, and I cried.

This week my faith in the goodness of the world is shaken.

But I hear tomorrow starts a new week, isn’t that right? Sunday is coming. God is still good. There will be time with my man, alone on a getaway. There will be time, if I am lucky, to write and write. There will be more small warm arms around my neck, more beautiful music, more blue sky and falling leaves.

I hope for less news.

*****

How was your week?

Gunmen and innocents

I wrote this post after the Navy Yard news back in September, and for some reason never got the courage to publish it. I think of it now, with Gaza and Syria and so many hurting people.

*

Confession: I am so weary of people killing people.

With the news full of bloodshed, it’s tempting to believe that the world is going to the devil, that you better save yourself any chance you get while you still can, that you gotta fight to protect yourself because people are just more evil than they used to be. There are whole video tutorials of advice on how to save yourself if you’re ever in a building with a gunman.

People are afraid.

Last Sunday I told my preschool class the story of Cain and Abel, and thought of how the world must have felt with the first human blood soaking into its breast.

We call it “innocent blood,” but who is innocent?

*

Only once was a True Innocent killed, in a saga so horrific the world was never the same. When His blood ran down that cross and spilled into the ground, mingling with “all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias,” the great cracking and remaking of the world began. The earth ejected him, living and indestructible; suffering became the path to victory; and that from that day forward, His people became empowered to run into dangerous situations because they know that the world can only bear innocent blood so long.

“Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead…

For behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.” Isaiah 26:19, 21

The world is not going to the devil; it’s going to the Redeemer.

The Daily Lampoon

From Meadville, Pennsylvania, this is Omi Werd reporting.

*****

The staff and team members at Confessions were blown away last week by heavy winds of unprecedented interest. Mrs. Zook, author of Confessions, stated herself both “delighted” and “a little overwhelmed” as page views temporarily skyrocketed and comments flew thick and fast. Zook wishes to thank the community for its [mitigated] support and [unmitigated] patience during this time.

Both agreement and disagreement were eloquently voiced online, with some readers participating in a discussion thread on the topic. “The community really came together,” says Zook.

“I expected to strike, you know, a very small nerve,” said Zook in a statement to reporters, “but this has taken me completely by surprise.” Pleasant voices of agreement were appreciated, as were pleasant voices of dissent, and our first hit-and-run commenter added an authentic and delightful twist. Says Zook, “My writing has been called many things, both complimentary and uncomplimentary, but ‘whiny rhetoric’ is a new one. Totally dig it!”

When asked where she wants to go from here, Zook mentioned upcoming plans for titillating posts on birthday cakes and bar stool cushions. “So we’ll definitely keep the excitement rolling. There’s plenty more where that came from.”

Until then, the Zooks can be reached at their local bomb shelter.

Cheap shrimp

Confession: I watched a startling video today and I’m not sure what to think about it.

After a six-month study by The Guardian, the video was released to reveal the fact that cheap prawns (shrimp to Americans) come at a high price: human trafficking and slavery. Burmese immigrants pay brokers to bring them into Thailand to find jobs. Instead, some are betrayed and sold as slaves to ship captains, forced to work up to 20-hour days under alleged cruelty, neglect, and violence. These slave ships supply “trash fish” which is sent to feed the prawns grown and harvested by CP Foods, the biggest shrimp farmer in the world. In turn, Walmart, Aldi, Costco, and many other large international grocers buy their prawns (cheap) from CP.

One of the things I miss the most about being younger is knowing so clearly what to do in moral dilemmas. When I was in my twenties, the actions were tough but the answers were simple. I must surrender this situation to the Lord. I must give up my dream for the sake of someone else. I can no longer buy and eat shrimp. Now the answers are complex to me, and muddied by many surrounding issues.

On the one hand, I have a horror of being Shelob: a brooding and selfish monster growing fat on the blood of her victims. We call it exploitation of the poor, and I cringe away from the thought of it—even secondhand exploitation of the poor, which may or may not be different. I refused to shop at Walmart for a whole year because of this {previous posts here and here}. Walmart makes its money through pinching the necks of the Chinese poor and the American poor, and all of us pay for it. I thought I’d never shop at Walmart again… but I do.

Because on the other hand, I am beginning to realize that every day of my life, I benefit from the suffering of other people. I see my husband working hard to provide me with the means to live. I see my mother in childbirth, bringing me into the world. I see Jesus struggling for breath on the cross, my sins forgiven because of bloodshed. I buy coffee and pineapple and T-shirts gathered for me from the ends of the earth, sold too cheaply by people too far away who worked too hard for people who couldn’t care less. This fact is altered very little by whether I buy the T-shirt at Walmart or Dollar General or the Salvation Army or my neighbor’s garage sale.

Sometimes we call services “tainted” because they come at a cost: the lives of the innocent. I care about this. And God cares—His Book flames with passion against the shedding of innocent blood.

But then He offered His own blood, the ultimate innocent blood, in the place of others. We call it a sacrifice (Him for us) and we receive it with tears and humility. Now, like Him, the Jesus people are called and enabled to offer our love as a sacrifice for others (us for them) every day of our lives, to break the cycle of hurt people hurting people, to walk through death into life and turn the world on its head.

How then to think about the sacrifices of others? particularly when they are forced sacrifices? Should I reject the “tainted” vaccine from the tissues of a sacrificial child, the “tainted” prawns from the slave ships of Thailand, the “tainted” land stolen from Native Americans?

Or does my gratitude give meaning to the sacrifice?

Or does my use condone the sacrifice?

Does it help if I do not eat shrimp?