Archive for December 27th, 2010

December 27, 2010

Are you, Rod Smith, a Christian or not?

by Rod Smith

Says it all......

I love the Body of Christ – I think. I’ve had mail from real Christians who have decided I have a one-way ticket to hell.

“How can you believe in women in leadership and Jesus? Read the Bible you idiot,” says a letter. “You will fry,” says another, “if you keep being so liberal, you will fry in Hell.”

Nice. How loving. Can you smell the sweet fragrance of grace?

It gets worse. Much worse. But, I think I’ll leave it at that.

Flip through my Email and it is: “I just can’t read you anymore. I feel like you are too preachy. When are you going to understand the separation of Church and State?” and “I don’t buy the newspaper to be evangelized.”

I guess I’m doing something.

Some Christians, and those who claim no Christian alliance, are equally reactive and often over the same piece of writing.

The truth is I am a Christian. Despite the invasive, intrusive efforts of many “evangelists” (I think of them as “meddlers”) throughout my childhood, I did see the love of God expressed through the Life of Jesus. I’ve seen the power of a Jesus-centered life. I have tasted, although I admit in a limited manner, the pain of following the most controversial, radical Person in History.

My life with my children is as direct a Divine Intervention as I have ever witnessed anywhere. I hope you will continue to read my work – even if I get sidetracked into other matters.

And, yes, I will continue to embrace people who are very different from me, despite what many real Christians try to tell me. I must follow Jesus and not those who claim Him for their often conservative, often very hateful, causes.

Oh yes. I remember one Saturday I got two special responses: a death threat from a reader who also said he’d hoped I’d get “sh-t-canned” from the paper (I’d written about how to identify men who are prone to domestic violence) and, flowers. They were sitting on my front steps with an anonymous note saying simply “Thanks” – both were in response to the same column.

December 27, 2010

The King’s Speech? Let me tell you about stuttering……

by Rod Smith

Attraction is only enduringly poss

It's a war of words in your belly

The King’s Speech, the new rage movie, and which I have not yet seen, is about stuttering. But let me, if I may, tell you a few things about it, stuttering that is if you’ve seen the movie or not.

First. I am a chronic stutterer. You might have known me for years and never known this about me. Chronic, yes, because it has been a life-long challenge and it can floor me in an instant. You may have heard me preach, seen me address thousands of people for days in a row, for hours at a time, and never heard even a momentary hesitation in my presentation.

But I am. I am a chronic stutterer.

It can debilitate me in a moment; trip me up like a vicious booby trap – the kind you see explode in Vietnam movies – and leave me afraid, humiliated, withdrawn, as if I’d committed some great, premeditated immorality.

But don’t feel sorry for me. I am used to it. I’ve been handling this recalcitrant, irascible puppy since “mama” wrestled around my throat refusing to come easy.

Really, if I’d known as a 12-year-old boy that there’d come a day when much of my future and income would depend on getting up in front of crowds of three (yes, three people waiting for you to speak when you are a stutterer can feel like a legion) to 5000, I think I’d have ended it all right then. I’d have (unannounced of course – since I might have bungled the delivery) walked off a high rise building in my city. I might have ended the anxiety, sleepless nights, practicing openers, trying to guess when a teacher would put me on the spot, the fear of the giggles, and the avoidance of the benevolent do-gooders who’d say “say it slowly” or “let’s try that again.” I’d have punched the self-appointed speech therapists in the face when I was 12 if I wasn’t also so darn eager to please, eager to be accepted, and, most importantly, didn’t have to explain my actions to anyone later.

So here’s a few tips about stutterers – keep in mind we are all very different:

Stutterers are cunning. They learn to negotiate the text, script, context – they become masters of improvisation. They are escape artists – they see the troublesome words fighting for position down the track (actually deep in the belly) and so they take detours in their own sentences. He or she can call the bluff on that difficult phrase like it was a surly or uncooperative adolescent, and chooses another more compliant, often more complex phrase, and go with that. You, the listener, are usually none the wiser. You’ve not been privy to the re-arrangement, the shifting of verbs and conjunctions for more oiled, more compliant combination to take its place.

Stuttering is pernicious. It goes underground for months then pops up like an angry ex to bark knowingly at your world when you least want her to.

Here’s the thing: I can speak to an auditorium jammed with people for an hour, and then have some adolescent coffee barista shrink in embarrassment as I try to say “small cappuccino” in the food court next door. I can read an entire chapter of a classic novel to a group of literature students and then I can’t get “where’s the restroom” out of my throat a minute later. I can make a flawless appeal to a foundation in London to a poker-faced board and then, even if my life was dependent upon it, I cannot say the name of the station I need to the ticket seller in the underground. It can get so bad that I carry and pencil and note cards for when mute is a more desirable option.

Stutterers are survivors. We go at it again and again. While we may avoid situations and not volunteer for certain roles, we are not looking for sympathy or accommodations.

So how to treat a stutterer? Look him in the eye. Don’t speak for him. Don’t prompt him. He’s probably not having a stroke so don’t immediately call 911.

Relax – that’s what we all need to do more of anyway.

December 27, 2010

Muslim woman; Christian man / Should they marry? You said so little…..

by Rod Smith

Trying to convince the convinced is a waste of effort....

A Muslim woman asked about marrying a Christian man. My response was, that given their circumstances each person should be sure to speak only for him or herself. I got letters from all fronts asking why I had said so little. You might remember the woman was convinced about her relationship and her future. You might know from life (and from this column) that one cannot convince the convinced no matter how hard one tries.

Here’s an enlightening reader response:

“Muslims submit completely to the Will of God. So if God says, ‘Jump’, Muslims do not ask ‘Why?’ or ‘How high?’ They will jump as high as possible. For a believer, divine laws take precedent over personal desires. The prohibition of marriage between a Muslim woman and a Christian man is a divine injunction. We may not understand the reasoning. With our logic and thinking, it may sound unreasonable and cruel. But it is a divine injunction. The feeling of displeasing our Creator can take its toll on the conscience, with challenges from in-laws and the upbringing of children. The latter will have its set of problems. The question for the Muslim woman is: ‘How strong is your belief in God?’”