I believe...
I believe in the power of connections. A personal connection with God, with each other, with community, with friends and family, with strangers, with all the good things of the earth.
I believe God gave us inquiring and discerning minds so that we might discover the miracles of Creation.
I believe that Mankind has the capacity to corrupt and destroy any good thing, including our environment, philosophical truths, and Holy Scripture. I also believe that most members of Mankind choose not to corrupt and destroy, and in that choice, confirm that we, too, are God’s miracles.
I believe that given open minds, enough time, and a means to communicate, each person on this earth has something to share and to learn with every other person.
I believe in the power of love and respect, compassion, and courage.
Core Beliefs
I am a Christian, I am an American, and I am a good friend. Those three "I am's" pretty much sum up who "I am."
Being a Christian
I'm not a loud evangelist.I try to live my life according to basic Christian principles.In a country that has a growing number of citizens who claim to be Christian, that should be easy, right? But alas, merely saying one is a Christian does not make one a Christian.
Mark Twain is credited with the flippant-sounding remark, "If Christ were here there is one thing he would not be--a Christian." He was not so very far from the mark, in my opinion. Many of those who label themselves Christian seem to have forgotten the two commandments given to us by Christ Himself:
  1. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
    and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
    This is the first and great commandment. 
    And the second is like unto it,        
    Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
    On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (King James Version, Matthew 22:37-40)
"Thy neighbor" does not refer only to those who live geographically close to us. Nor does it mean only those who are like us, in race, gender, creed, sexual orientation or identity, income level, nationality, or in any other way that makes us feel comfortably separate from or superior to those with whom we share the earth.
The message of Christ is beautifully simple; it is only Man's corruption of the message over two thousand years' time that could turn something so beautiful into something so very judgemental and filled with hate. When people begin using the Bible as a club, rather than as a beautiful lesson, be suspicious. All too often those who can cite its verses to condemn have not actually read it. Various verses of the Bible have been used to justify slavery, wife-beating, condemnation of same-sex relationships, and war. The next time you hear its verses used in that way, or if you yourself are tempted to use the Bible as a weapon, hold your words up next to the two great commandments, and pause to consider your motivation. Is it love? Or is it self-serving?
As we listen to debates about morality, and who's going to heaven, and who's going to hell, it's important to not confuse the message of those who claim to be Christians with the message that Christ Himself offered.
Mark Twain offered the following at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. But for the names of the countries involved, could it apply today?
  1. "I bring you the stately matron named Christendom, returning bedraggled, besmirched, and dishonored, from pirate raids in Kiao-Chou, Manchuria, South Africa, and the Phillipines, with her soul full of meanness, her pocket full of boodle, and her mouth full of pious hypocrisies. Give her soap and towel, but hide the looking glass."
    - "A Salutation from the 19th to the 20th Century," 12/31/1900
Being an American
I love my country. I choose, every day, to be an American. But to be an American, one must be vigilant against enemies both domestic and foreign.
Some of those enemies are easily identified. When the British fought against us in the War of 1812, it was clear they were the enemy. When the Japanese attacked us in World War II, it was clear they were our enemy. In the foreign wars of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, our enemies and our allies were nations. Only in the Civil War did brother fight brother, wondering why the person on the other side of the enemy line was an enemy.
Now, we find ourselves in an entirely different kind of war. A war on terrorism. A war against terrorists. A war not against a nation, but against an idea. It is an idea that is repugnant to most freedom-loving people, but it is an idea. Wars against ideas have a notoriously long record of losses. The British lost the war against the "idea" of American independence. The Soviets lost the war against capitalism. The South lost the war against the idea of a united republic.
Why is it that these wars failed, and yet wars against nations can be fought and won? Ideas don't wear uniforms. Ideas don't recognize boundaries. Ideas spread like wildfire, racing from mind to mind through letters, newspapers, email, telephone calls, and cassette tapes. And eventually, ideas either stand or fall, pretty much on their own.
We will applaud the failure of some ideas (e.g., that a "pure race" is superior), and we will weep at the loss of others (e.g., that one country is entitled to seize whatever raw materials it needs from others).
If you want to be an American patriot, turn off the light you're not using. Turn the thermostat down. Walk or bicycle instead of driving. Buy efficient appliances and vehicles. Every gallon of oil that we don't use denies money and, more importantly, bargaining power to those who just might be shooting at those brave Americans serving in our military. Cherish the rights that they and those who went before them have defended with their very blood. Vote. Read a book. Speak your mind. Write your Congressperson and Senator. For the idea of this democratic republic is the best and brightest "memorial" we can ever build to honor their courage and sacrifice. It is a living monument, built of flesh and blood and bones, to the concept that more than half the people are right more than half the time.
Being a Good Friend
I try to be a good listener. I try to help where I can. I try to be where I am needed and wanted. Without my friends, I don’t know if I would be alive, or who I would be. You, dear friends, are important blessings in my life. Through you I see the world  through different eyes: What has been, what is, and what might be.
My Beliefs
Name: Leland
Age: Older than 48
Sign: Capricorn
Faith: Christian
Denomination: Episcopalian
Favorite Books of the Bible: 1 Samuel and Matthew
Favorite Bible Verse:
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; 5 it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13
Books Influencing my Faith
  1. 1.The KJV Bible
  2. 2.Illusions, by Richard Bach
  3. 3.All of CS Lewis’ inspirational writings
My favorite links