Friday, July 10, 2015

There’s a Lot More to the Fishing Experience Than “Hook, Line and Sinker”…

The popular movie of 20-plus years ago, “A River runs Through It,” has a key line in it where eldest son-of-a-preacher Norman Maclean declares, “In our family there was no clear line between religion and fishing.”
One could almost say the same thing about our immediate family, as “the fishing experience” provided many venues of interesting, whimsical and allegorical conversation amongst my two sons as they were growing up, and myself.

In the movie the father is the preacher and the story revolves around the two sons’ correlation of their  father’s love of (fly) fishing and many of the spiritual aspects of life itself.  In contrast, in our family the philosophically-bent father (and mom, of course) ended up with both of the sons in ministry: Gregg, a senior pastor, and Doug, a theology professor/ordained minister.
Both of them now outfish their father, as you can see from the photo (a salmon excursion on Puget Sound 11 years ago).

So how does “the fishing experience” affect so much of life?  So glad you asked.

The late POTUS Herbert Hoover once said, “Fishing is a constant reminder of the democracy of life, of humility, and of frailty; the forces of nature discriminate for no man.”  You readily understand the meaning of this statement if you have ever spent a long day on a lake or stream throwing every bait you have at these wily finned creatures and ended up only with hunger and a sunburn.

Yes, fishing can teach you a lot about the vicissitudes of life but it also offers mind-boggling opportunities to see, touch and experience the wonders of God’s creation.  When my sons were young, we lived in Oregon and would often make our way up into the beautiful, mountainous, wooded and stream-laden areas of the State. 
The upper Clackamas river, from the confluence of the Collawash River down, was an especially great area for trout and even steelhead in the warmer summer months.   As we stood on the river bank, casting and retrieving, the boys would often ask questions about nature, creation, the skies, or the universe.  Almost always the question began with “why?”.

John Muir, said to be an avid fisherman, observed, “God is making the world, and the show is so grand and beautiful and exciting that I never have been able to study any other.”  As I think back, that’s what the boys and I discovered those many years ago.

Fishing always teaches you two things; namely, patience and humility.  The aforementioned Herbert Hoover also postulated that “a fisher must be of contemplative mind, for it is a long time between bites.”  I certainly know that I have a contemplative mind; someone else can decide which came first, the love of fishing or the latter.  On humility, famous outdoorsman Zane Grey pointed out that “there was never an angler who lived but that there was a fish capable of taking the conceit out of him.”
I resemble that.

It’s obvious, to me at least, that there is a whole lot more to fishing than first meets the eye.  For me, a lifetime of angling has provided many lessons and a richness to life itself.   The lessons it has taught are priceless.

Izaak Walton summed it up this way, “the good angler must bring a large measure of hope and patience.”  I can’t think of a much better approach to life. 
Many of the quotes in this post are from a booklet I’ve enjoyed called “A Fisherman’s Guide to Life – Wisdom and Wit Based on the Realities of Fishing” by Criswell Freeman.  It was given to me as a birthday present at least 20 years ago by dear friends Ed and Darlene Wall.

And yes, I’m hooked for life.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

What's All the Fuss?

Apparently, a lot of American Evangelical Christians got their holy noses bent out of shape by the recent U.S. Supreme Court Ruling prohibiting discrimination of same sex marriages. 

At first glance, this may seem like a normal -- or maybe even expected -- response.  But when you look a little closer, the patent truth is that nothing has substantially changed for followers of Christ.

Yes, it has come to pass that same sex marriage now has equal civil recognition in our country as does marriage between a man and a woman – as ludicrous as that may sound to many traditionalists.  But what is quite interesting to me, however, is the reaction to the ruling among fellow Christians.
As I’ve watched the responses on social media and in commentaries in various periodicals, there seem to be two general themes for the most part: a) “Keep calm; this is nothing new,” or b) “OMGosh, our country is headed for Hades.”
Has this issue sparked a strong response from you as well?

In my humble opinion, it can be very easy to convolute the spiritual with the civil for many American Evangelical Christians (or anyone).  It is easy because many folks too readily believe that America is a “Christian” nation and that God has blessed us because our founders were deists or because we hold fast for the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance and other such arbitrary and immaterial gestures.

Nothing could be farther from the truth, and we should be thankful for it. 
Freedom to practice our religion (ANY religion) is a great gift from our forefathers.  But also part of that great gift is the prohibition of establishing any particular religion as a state practice (the separation of Church and State).  We are not a “Christian” nation; that would effectively be a theocracy, and that will only occur when Christ comes back to earth to rule and reign.

At best we are a democratic republic consisting of a (dwindling) majority of "professed Christians."  Our CULTURE may be Christian to the extent that those who profess the faith actually live it out (and this is fast changing), but our nation is not. 

Further, consider the consequences if we ever modulated to having a majority of Muslims in our country; would you want their theocracy then?  God forbid.

So, take a deep breath, cool the heels and take a look at reality.  What the Supreme Court did was to recognize equality under CIVIL law for same sex marriage. 

The significant question to ask (in my view) is: What is unique about this ruling to make it different from how Christians have dealt with (and reacted to) civil law for two millennia?  The glaring answer is -- nothing.   Absolutely nothing.
The law to which we adhere as followers of Christ is God’s law, well elicited for us in the Bible through hundreds of years of tradition and church guidance.  How we will be ultimately judged is not by how well we lived by man’s civil laws but rather by how well we live out the Gospel as revealed by Jesus Christ when he was on earth.

Last I heard no one is requiring anyone to participate in anything one wasn’t participating in previous to the SCOTUS ruling.  But if we ever do go down that road in this country, as Christ-followers we know where our allegiance lies.