Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tackling the Hard Stuff

Hard discussions are difficult to blog about, so I'll just give you an overview of some of the tough stuff we've tackled in the past couple days... And maybe some lighter stuff just to mix it up. In fact, let's start with something light...
Yesterday morning, we had our second and last drum lesson! I'm actually really sad that we only get to have two. And while I still wouldn't list that as a future career possibility, I think I actually improved a lot over those two classes. I finally got decent at "rolling," which I would never have expected in a million years. All in all, I'm really glad we had an opportunity to experience a little bit of that part of Irish culture.
In the afternoon, we had a debate and mock election. We were divided into 5 teams of 4 people, each group representing one of the political parties. My team was Fine Gael. We researched their policies, manifestos, proposals for the future government, etc. Of all the parties, Fine Gael is probably the one closest to our Republican Party although they do fall a little left of center on a couple issues. One person from each team was the "spokesperson" and presented to the group their parties positions and then debated the other spokespeople on key issues. Then the audience could ask questions to the candidates. I know this might sound boring to you, but I actually found it really fascinating. One of my majors is political science, so I found it so interesting to learn about another country's political parties and government system. I really wish I could vote in Friday's elections! Oh and just to go on record, my team won! (Not going to lie, I really enjoy winning. I am pretty competitive... probably a result of so many years in athletics!)
Skipping ahead to today, this afternoon we had our first of four newspaper discussions. Throughout the semester we are expected to read newspaper articles pertaining to Ireland and write 4 one page summaries of an article. In addition, we all take a turn leading a discussion on one major article. The two articles brought up today were really intense topics to discuss. The first was about the Catholic Church. They recently held a service in Ireland in which they publicly apologized for all the sex offenses done by clergymen in the church that have recently been coming to light throughout the world. Our conversation was a good disussion about the importance of repentance and forgiveness, while also recognizing the need for retribution for wrongdoings. It was also pointed out that this is a problem in many other circles, the Catholic Church is simply in the limelight for now. It was not an easy topic, but a important one to address. Our second article discussion was not any easier. It focused on legalization of civil partnerships for gays and lesbians in Ireland. Apparently, all of the political parties here currently support civil partnerships, but not all support gay marriage. This was another tough discussion. We looked at the impact of that kind of legislation on Ireland. But we also recognized the importance of loving people, but if they are claiming to be Christians, carefully calling them out on sin. This is something I think Christians have failed on so many times in the past. Sin is sin. All of it nailed Jesus to the cross. While the consequences on earth may be different, all of it looks the same to God because all of it is failure to achieve holiness. As Christians, too often, we are  too quick to judge people for this sin and believe it is one of the "greater sins." But that isn't true. I think all of us walked away from that conversation, more convicted of the need to love people. That doesn't mean we have to approve of their actions, but we do need to love them. After all, didn't Jesus eat meals with prostitutes and tax collectors- the "worst" kind of sinners of his day? To Him they were no different from the child on the street who told a white lie to his mother, to the man who cheated his neighbor by adjusting the scales. In the same way, we need to love everyone and not be so quick to point fingers. Instead, we need to have honest, open dialogue about our struggles. None of us deal with the same things, but if we are really a part of intentional community, we can help each other deal with every kind of sin in our life so that we become more and more Christ-like every day.
On a not so lighter note, we went to a play tonight! Fun, right? Well... sorta. It was well written and the dialogue was witty Irish humor. For example, one of the lines was:
"Jesus also drove 2000 pigs into the sea, but everyone seems to glaze over that Gospel story." 
"I didn't know Jesus could drive."
But, as a whole, it was dark and brought up a lot of depressing issues. The title of the play was "The Cripple of Inish Man." (In Irish, Inish=Island) So as you can tell from the title it's about a cripple who lives on the island of Man and all these terrible things that happen to him. (I'm about to spoil the ending so stop reading if you  plan on seeing it and want to be surprised.) His parents were killed when he was a baby, the townspeople mock him, he runs away to America and then returns only to suffer more cruel treatment, he contemplates suicide, and then dies of tuberculosis. So a bunch of really hard topics. The interesting thing is, in the midst of this dark storyline is constant witty, funny dialogue. Irish people don't seem to like to stay serious very long, so whenever things get too depressing, someone cracks a joke. I don't really understand that part of this culture yet, but it is interesting to observe.
Well, I'm sorry this post is a little bit of a debby downer. Go back and read about our Three Stooges adventure if you need to laugh again. That's what the Irish would do! But, at the same time, sometimes we do have to tackle the hard stuff. After all, life's not easy.

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