Category Archives: Community Service Ethics

Merry Christmas to All Whatever Your Morals – Ethics or Background

I am a Christian. I believe in Christ, not because I have any proof that Christ is the son of God, but because I want to believe. I believe that the teachings that are ascribed to Christ would, if everyone followed them to the best of their ability, make this a far better world. I further believe that this country, The United States Of America, is the greatest country in the world and it is so in part because it has tried to base it’s morals and ethics on and has tried to follow Christian ethics. I am not, however, a bible thumping Christian, an evangelistic Christian or even a regular church going Christian. I am not trying to convert the world or even my neighbors to Christianity. I don’t care if a person is a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, an Atheist, etc. as long as the person is a good person and cares about other people.

Just don’t tell me that I can’t celebrate Christmas, don’t tell me that I can’t say merry Christmas, don’t tell me that a Christmas tree is a “holiday” tree, don’t tell me that December 25 is no longer Christmas Day but is instead now a no name holiday, dont tell me that if I say merry Christmas other people will be insulted, don’t tell me that my children can’t have a Christmas pagent in school because other children may feel insulted or left out (School is not and can not always be all inclusive for everyone, otherwise there would be no chess club because not every child plays chess, no sports teams because not every child plays or even likes sports, no drama club because not every child wants to act, no memorial day because not every child want’s to honor our fallen soldiers, no labor day because not every child wants to honor unions, no Thanksgiving because not every child wants to give thanks, no pledge of allegiance because not every child wants to honor this country, etc.). This is not a country of worker bees or ants, we are a country of individuals with different backgrounds and different beliefs. The majority of the people in this country are, however, Christians and the majority of the people in this country weather you like it or not do celebrate Christmas.

According to the U.S Government under United States Code section 5-6103, December 25 is a legal holiday and that legal holiday is named Christmas. Most states also denote December 25 as “Christmas”. We all know that Christ was not actually born on December 25 but that is the date that this government and the majority of Christian churches have chosen to use. Additionally, not all people who celebrate Christmas believe in Christ, many people celebrate it as just a holiday that happens to be called Christmas. I’ve been to numerous Christmas parties where many of the guests were not Christians. No one ever called them Holiday parties and as far as I know no one was ever upset that the party was called a Christmas party.

I’m not insulted if someone wishes me happy Chanukah or happy Kwanza so why should anyone be insulted if I say merry Christmas. It seems to me that the only people that complain about Christmas are certain Atheists and the people that have designated themselves as “political correctness police”. Well. in this country you people have the right to state your thoughts but please stop trying to force your way of thinking on everyone else. Leave us alone. Get your own holiday, leave us ours.

I celebrate Christmas and I would probably celebrate Christmas even if I didn’t believe in Christ. After all it’s a wonderful holiday, it wishes peace on earth and good will towards all mankind (What other holiday makes that wish.). If you are so insecure in your religion or lack of religion that you feel threatened by my celebration of Christmas then I feel sorry for you. I would also tell you to go jump off a very high bridge into very deep water (Sorry, but I told you that I was not a really good Christian. People that try to push their beliefs on me really irk me.). If you don’t want to celebrate Christmas, don’t. Just don’t tell those of us that do want to that we can’t.

Lastly, leave our schools alone. If you don’t want your children to participate in a christmas pagent then tell them not to participate. Contrary to what you think the other kids will not tease or make fun of them. When I was in elementary school I was an atheist and no one ever made fun of me for not believing in Christ and I never felt left out by not joining in as a charecter in a Christmas play. Of course, even though I was an atheist I still believed, at least for a while, in Santa Clause, I still enjoyed recieving Christmas gifts, I still enjoyed listening to Christmas carolers and I still thought a lighted Christmas tree was beautiful. In fact I thought Christmas time was the best time of the year and I was happy to say merry Christmas. However, maybe I just wasn’t as insecure or as intolarent as you are.

By the way, even though I was an atheist, my family was Protestant and even though they were Protestant we belonged to the local Jewish Community Center and none of us ever felt left out or put upon when most of them celebrated the Jewish holidays. In fact, it was during those years that I developed my high respect for the Jewish people and their religious laws.

Merry Christmas everyone — and Happy New Year!!!

Advertisements

Embrace Christmas Spirit This Holiday Season

While for so many people this holiday season is about rampant commercialism, keeping up with the Joneses and rushing to keep up with a hectic schedule, we should all jump off the speed train and take time to not only appreciate the true meaning of Christmas but also to embrace the true spirit of Christmas.

Emotionally this is a difficult time of year for so many. Depression and anger drive up the rates of suicide and domestic violence. Stress builds upon stress to destroy the holiday cheer of many.

The underlying problem for so many people is that they focus all their energy on what they do not have rather than embracing what they do have — that is what Christmas spirit is all about.

Whether or not you are an ardent Christian, if you live in the Western World then you know that the true meaning of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Christ. The Christ child is a symbol of love, light, hope and peace that makes this such a joyful season for true believers. However, even among the believers, there are some for which this message is not enough to overcome the depression, anger and stress of the season.

That is why it is so important to embrace the true meaning of Christmas. You need to reach down within yourself to find the spirit of Christmas. In order to embrace the true Christmas spirit you must be willing to give. Give of yourself, your time and your love, and give of your worldly possessions. Do not think of the gifts you give to others as an obligation or duty, but think of it as a symbol of your love for them. While no gift can accurately reflect the love we feel for those who are near and dear to us, we can show them that they matter by spending time and thought to create or select a gift with meaning.

My son likes to make his gifts and spends a long time designing and then creating these items. Granted, we could have bought a sweatshirt with “world’s best grandpa” printed on by a factory, but I expect that his grandfathers will cherish the shirts he designed himself and then created with fabric paint — misspellings, oddly-formed pictures and all. If you are struggling with your Christmas spirit then perhaps you should avoid the mall entirely this season and find a different way to give?

Embracing the spirit of Christmas also means giving to those beyond our immediate sphere as well, especially those most in need. Obviously it is easy to throw some money in a Salvation Army collection, and that is certainly worth doing, but if your Christmas spirit needs a boost then perhaps you should try something more hands-on.

Local churches, schools, and charitable organizations can usually give you a list of opportunities to give and help. For example, through my church we have taken up a shoebox collection (creating an assortment of holiday gifts that will fit into a plastic shoebox and then are shipped to need children overseas) and bought coats and clothing for needy children in our community. I helped wrap the coats and clothing as well as contributed to both campaigns and it did wonders for making me appreciate what I possess.

Embrace the spirit of Christmas and find the true meaning of the season to bring more joy and happiness into your life.

Salvation Army – Your Xmas Answers

Last year during Christmas season I started to enter a store that I had shopped at regularly for years. I stopped at the store entrance because I felt that something was wrong. Then I realized that there was no bell ringing and no Salvation Army volunteer with his or her red kettle. I went into the store and asked the manager if he knew why the Salvation Army volunteer was not outside.

He stated that the company had gotten complaints from people who were unhappy that a religious organization was soliciting donations in front of the company’s stores. He stated that the company had decided that they would no longer allow the Salvation Army to have a space outside the stores. This way the company would not offend people. I told the manager that they had just offended me. I walked out and have never again shopped at that store or at any of that company’s other stores.

Every year I know it’s the Christmas season when I see the Salvation Army volunteers ringing their bells and standing next to their red donation kettles or buckets. Every time I see one of those red buckets I put $5, $10 or $20 in the bucket and thank the volunteer for being there and allowing me to make the donation. I thank them because I believe that they are doing me a favor by allowing me to help people through the Salvation Army. They are the ones that have to stand for hours ringing their bell while all I have to do is put money in the bucket. They don’t get paid for doing this they just do it out of love for their fellow humans. I not only donate at Christmas time, I also send in anonymous donations (For my own ideological reasons most of my donations to most entities are made anonymously.) at other times of the year and when there are various disasters.

I am not connected in any way with the Salvation Army nor have I ever recieved aid from them. The Salvation Army is a christian religious organization and although I am a Christian I am a Catholic. Some people ask me why I give to the Salvation Army instead of the Catholic Church. I tell them that I do give to the Church, but I also give to the Salvation Army. As far as I am concerned the Salvation Army is one of the finest charities around. They try to help any and every person regardless of race, nationality, color, sexual preference or religious beliefs. They have never tried to convert anyone I know of and they never seem to engage in any type of politicking. The only thing I have ever seen them do is help people. They have their beliefs but as far as I have seen they do not try to force those beliefs on others.

The Salvation Army is a religious organization, they do have ministries, they do have members, and they do preach the gospel of Christ to people, however, as far as I know they do not preach to people that do not want to hear them and they never require people that they are helping to join them. When I was young, I knew a girl whose family belonged to the Salvation Army. Not once did they ever try to “convert” me, not once did they ever try to talk me into going to services with them and not once did they ever try to do anything other that to be nice to me. At that time I was an Agnostic and they knew this but they never tried to change my mind and they never judged me.

According the Salvation Army, “83 cents of every dollar collected by the Army goes directly to client service”, this is one the highest percentages of any non-profit in the world. Among the services that they provide are disaster relief services, day care centers, summer camps, holiday assistance, services for the aging, AIDS education and residential services, medical facilities, shelters for battered women and children, family and career counseling, vocational training, correction services, and substance abuse rehabilitation. More than 30 million people a year are aided in some form by services provided by The Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army is actively involved in fighting the international crime of human and sexual trafficking. The battle is fought on two fronts: shaping public policy in Washington, DC, as well as providing basic services and advocacy for victims. They run 120 adult rehabilitation centers across the nation, these centers focus solely on defeating substance abuse. Individuals with identifiable and treatable needs go to these centers for help when they no longer are able to cope with their addictions. They receive housing, nourishing meals, and necessary medical care, and they engage in work therapy. The Salvation Army also operates 18 locations across the United States, which provide a comprehensive treatment program for men and women struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Clients are primarily homeless, with limited or no access to other treatment or social service programs. Educational assistance along with classes such as relapse prevention and anger management prepare graduates for independence and meaningful employment. Each year, thousands of older adults are served by The Salvation Army through a myriad of programs. At Salvation Army community centers, seniors may find educational classes, adult day care, hot-lunch programs, and the “league of mercy,” a community care ministry that sends volunteers to hospitals, nursing homes, and directly to the homebound to provide a listening ear, a caring heart and a helping hand.

They provide needy families with Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, gifts for children, coats and shoes for kids with none to wear, and visitation to the elderly and imprisoned who have no one to care for them. Families who are in desperate need of basics such as food, clothing and household items during the holidays are placed in the care of the Army’s Adopt a Family program. Each family creates a wish list of items and is matched with a volunteer donor team. Businesses, families and school groups adopt families in this program, generously meeting the family’s needs and instilling hope in those who have none.

The Salvation Army may be a religious organization but their main function seems to be to help those in need. As such they are a charity worth donating to. A charity that deserves your donations, not just at Christmas time but year round. Help them help others. You don’t have to be a Christian to give to them, you don’t even have to believe in God. All you have to believe in is helping other people.

Sheltering from Domestic Violence – The Perfect Storm?

Shelters are run, funded, and managed either by governments or by volunteer non-government organizations. According to a 1999 report published by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, there are well over 2000 groups involved in sheltering abused women and their off-spring.

Before you opt for moving with your children into a sheltered home or apartment, go through this check list.

1. It is important to make sure that the philosophy of the organizers of the shelters accords with your own. Some shelters, for instance, are run by feminist movements and strongly emphasize self-organization, co-operation, and empowerment through decision-making. Other shelters are supervised by the Church or other religious organizations and demand adherence to a religious agenda. Yet others cater to the needs of specific ethnic minorities or neighbourhoods.

2. Can you abide by the house rules? Are you a smoker? Some shelters are for non-smokers. What about boyfriends? Most shelters won’t allow men on the premises. Do you require a special diet due to medical reasons? Is the shelter’s kitchen equipped to deal with your needs?

3. Gather intelligence and be informed before you make your move. Talk to battered women who spent time in the shelter, to your social worker, to the organizers of the shelter. Check the local newspaper archive and visit the shelter at least twice: in daytime and at night.

4. How secure is the shelter? Does it allow visitation or any contact with your abusive spouse? Does the shelter have its own security personnel? How well is the shelter acquainted with domestic violence laws and how closely is it collaborating with courts, evaluators, and law enforcement agencies? Is recidivism among abusers tracked and discouraged? Does the shelter have a good reputation among them? You wouldn’t want to live in a shelter that is shunned by the police and the judicial system.

5. How does the shelter tackle the needs of infants, young children, and adolescents? What are the services and amenities it provides? What things should you bring with you when you make your exit – and what can you count on the shelter to make available? What should you pay for and what is free of charge? How well-staffed is the shelter? Is the shelter well-organized? Are the intake forms anonymous?

6. How accessible is the shelter to public transport, schooling, and to other community services?

7. Does the shelter have a batterer intervention program or workshop and a women’s support group? In other words, does it provide counselling for abusers as well as ongoing succour for their victims? Are the programs run only by volunteers (laymen peers)? Are professionals involved in any of the activities and, if so, in what capacity (consultative, supervisory)?

Additionally, does the shelter provide counselling for children, group and individual treatment modalities, education and play-therapy services, along with case management services?

Is the shelter associated with outpatient services such vocational counselling and job training, outreach to high schools and the community, court advocacy, and mental health services or referrals?

8. Most important: don’t forget that shelters are a temporary solution. These are transit areas and you are fully expected to move on. Not everyone is accepted. You are likely to be interviewed at length and screened for both your personal needs and compatibility with the shelter’s guidelines. Is it really a crisis situation, are your life or health at risk – or are you merely looking to “get away from it all”? Even then, expect to be placed on a waiting list. Shelters are not vacation spots. They are in the serious business of defending the vulnerable.

When you move into a shelter, you must know in advance what your final destination is. Imagine and plan your life after the shelter. Do you intend to relocate? If so, would you need financial assistance? What about the children’s education and friends? can you find a job? Have everything sorted out. Only then, pack your things and leave your abuser.

Youth Cultures – Adolescence or Manipulation?

Youth cultures are explained either by factors in the experience of adolescence, or by the manipulation of young people’s spending and leisure, through advertising and other mass media.  They tend not to be passed on to the next generation and usually fade out in decade.  At the beginning there is fear, and youth cultures are often judged completely wrongly: punk, for instance, was first thought to be a new neo-Nazi movement in the 1970s.

What happens then is that youth cultures are either drastically marginalized, or even demonized, as is the case with the neo-Nazi scene, about which it is virtually impossible to find any positive reports?

Postmodern youth cultures are emerging due to the impact of globalization, the mass media and information technology, rather than simply as a resultof the processes of marginalisation or alienation.  Working class youth are seen as in transition to the labour market, and youth cultures are described as collective strategies on the part of specific groups of youth to manage that transition, responding to the conditions obtaining in their locality and to the class traditions and other resources at their disposal.

Youth Cultures

Youth cultures have not been part of all societies throughout history; they appear most frequently where significant realms of social autonomy for young people become regularized and expected features of the socialization process.  Youth cultural groups are often to be distinguished through distinctive forms of dress style and shared musical tastes, and are typically found in westernized, consumer-based cultures (although more recent research has identified examples of youth cultures in developing countries).  Today, however, straight edge is also a term commonly used to describe groupings within sub- and youth cultures which have agreed to abstain from alcohol, hallucinogenic drugs, cigarettes and promiscuity.  Also, things are not nearly so clear cut these days – cannabis is no longer the domain of just one particular youth culture nowadays because it has become so mainstream.

Research

Research into youth cultures has been most prolific in the disciplines of sociology, psychology, and anthropology; it is readily apparent in criminology of juveniles, demographic analyses, studies of the family and adolescent social development, and the study of ritual.  While the majority of research has focused on the effects of commercial popular culture on youth, popular culture’s role as a shared and identity-generated commodity among youth has been investigated to a much lesser degree.  According to dominant discourses in the media, politics, and academic research,the everyday life of growing segments of youth is increasingly unstable,violent, and dangerous.

As far as public perception is concerned, all youth cultures are initially assumed to be bad.  There is some question, therefore, about whether descriptions and theories of contemporary youth cultures are adequate for historical studies that reach back as far as five hundred years.  A key debate over this period has been the extent to which lifestyles and youth cultures are class-related, as in the notion of class subculture, or independent of class, the best documented example of which is the 1990s phenomenon of ‘rave’.

Community ‘Pay it Forward’ For The Good of Everyone?

Do you ever tell yourself, “Someday I’m going to get involved in my community”? Now is your chance. By joining an organization such as Lions Clubs International, you can help people within your community or on the other side of the world.

As a Lions volunteer, you can become involved in projects such as building community playgrounds, assisting in vision screenings at schools, aiding seniors, improving the environment, building homes for the disabled, supporting diabetes education and conducting hearing screenings.

Lions club members include men and women who share a commitment to service and take great pride in making an impact on local and global communities. Investing time in Lions club projects gives members a sense of connectedness to the community and an opportunity to make friends, gain leadership skills and network with others while having fun. Lions also provide opportunities for youth through youth exchange programs, youth camps and Leo clubs.

From 2002 through 2003, Lions Clubs International’s nearly 1.4 million members worldwide volunteered an estimated 65 million hours and donated $667 million. The organization was founded in 1917 and with 46,000 clubs in 193 countries, it is the world’s largest service organization.

Lions Clubs International Foundation, the grant-making arm of Lions Clubs International, has awarded $342 million to provide food and clothing to victims of earthquakes and hurricanes, give youth the tools to succeed in the classroom, empower the disabled through vocational training, and equip clinics and hospitals with new technology. SightFirst, an aggressive $143.5 million program, is working to eradicate blindness.

Christian Communities The Online Halo?

When you think about all the pros and cons of the internet one topic always seems to surface, the fact of community. There are both positive and negative aspects to online community but there is no denying that online communities have formed a spiritual and relational tidal wave that is sweeping our world.

The fact is that the internet allows for community in a unique and powerful way that has never been possible until this millennia. Look at the explosion of sites like MySpace or Facebook. Go to any college or high school in the U.S. and you will find people who are living in community on the internet. Now more than ever even the older generations are utilizing the internet to find communities of like-minded people. This networking is growing every day and is exciting to some and very scary to others.

As Christians we must do more than just realizing the fact that online communities are changing our world. We must actually begin to embrace this change and use it for God’s glory. It is true that the internet’s unique and powerful opportunity for community comes with some negative repercussions. One, the availability of all kinds of sin and temptation at your fingertips. Two, the lack of accountability for what is done within online communities. There are many more, but my focus is not on these negative repercussions. Rather, on the benefit that we as Christians can bring to God’s Kingdom if we will embrace the concept of digital community and use it strategically for His purposes.

I believe God frowns when His people are cynical toward new or progressive concepts such as online communities. I can just hear God saying, “Why not use that for my glory?” So why don’t we? I mean, why not really use it! Why not get involved in such a way that we, as Christ followers, become some of the forerunners in this digital age instead of always the tale sniffers?

When we see something like online communities exploding across the world, most of which seem to be ran by people who could care less about Christ…why as Christians do we not get some unction in our function and start figuring out how to compete? The apostle Paul was a competitor! He competed for lost souls by which he became all things to all men in hopes that he might win some for Christ. (1Cor9:22) He also said he ran this race of life as to win the prize! (1Cor9:24) Sometimes I wonder if we get more excited about our kids little league soccer competitions, Sunday afternoon football, or climbing up the corporate ladder, than we do the competition for lost souls!

Paul was a great winner of souls because he was available. Simply, he was willing to do God’s work in God’s way! (K.P. Yohannan) Paul didn’t limit God’s avenues of reaching the lost, he was on the cutting edge.

It is time as Christians that we make online communities a priority! Very simply, we are losing the race. A whole generation is being impacted in online communities and we are sitting on the sidelines booing! If we are going to bring the transforming love of Christ to all nations and fulfill the Great Commission (Matt28:19) then we must not forget about the new nation of “the World Wide Web”. So far, it is our great omission within the Great Commission…But I believe this is changing…

What must we do to continue the change? First of all, get involved in a Christian online community. Use it as a tool to disciple and edify other like-minded people. For the more experienced and those with bedrock integrity, get involved in a non-Christian community like Myspace or Facebook and let your light shine! Further, make your voice heard. Support the pioneers who are out there trying to make a dent in the internet for Christ! Encourage your local church to put a budget toward online marketing or to partner with an online Christian ministry. Lastly and most importantly, support Christian online community! We need more places on the internet that are safe. Places where you can tell your kids that it’s okay to chat, it’s okay to get advice. Support online communities that you feel are spreading the gospel and if you can’t find one start one! Online community is here to stay. Question is: in the online arena, are you a contender or a spectator? Let the Gospel ring loud in all our communities! Christ in us, the hope of glory! (Colossians 1:27)