Margie Thompson: My New Year’s Resolution

I pray that our representatives act like intelligent adults.

Ray McClennan: My New Year’s Resolution

My resolution is to take 10 to 30 minutes every night to reflect on all of the interactions I had that day with all other humans.  I will reflect to see if I could have handled the conversation better than I did.  I believe that words are the most powerful thing we have and they can build up or tear down people in a very few minutes. I want to be true to myself and my opinions but not in a way that destroys other people.

Having a strong personality can be a gift or a curse. I want it to be a gift.

Patrick Derocher: My New Year’s Resolution

This is what I need to do. Congress should be getting us a budget.

While considering what  I would write for this (potentially) apolitical piece, all I could think about was my senior thesis. I’ll be finishing my bachelor’s in December,  and while this plan has certain advantages (moving out of dorms a semester early), it also means I have to write my thesis in my last semester of school. I mean that I really have to get it done, which is a bit of an issue given that it’s a month in and I have… slightly more than nothing. Granted, it’s not that I’m worried about finishing. Rather, it’s that I need to put my nose to the grindstone; focus on doing the research, writing, and classwork I have to do; and not let unnecessary distractions get in my way. There is something here that needs to get done, whether I like it or not, and only once I have it taken care of can I do other things, engage in the activities I want to, expand beyond what I have to do…

Kind of like Congress.

It occurs to me that this is a rather simple lesson Congress could learn, too, and use as its New Year’s resolution. At the risk of inflicting overly-cute wordplay on this blog’s readers, it seems that Congress should adopt a Resolutions Resolution. In recent years, Congress has become reliant upon continuing resolutions as a way of allowing the federal government to function in lieu of actual appropriations bills. Although Congress hasn’t been using such measures as much as a decade ago (there were 21 for the 2001 budget), it is much worse now than in, say, the latter half of the Bush Administration, and still historically very high. This is silly. Constitutionally, the budget is absolutely paramount among Congress’s duties; that the body cannot even pass such basic laws is a travesty, one that Congress should take it upon themselves to fix. Here is my proposal for Congress’s Resolutions Resolution: focus until you can pass a budget in a timely fashion. No commemorations, no pet projects, no filler, no nothing until continuing resolutions are not in constant use as a fiscal and legislative crutch.

Susan Carson Lambert: My New Year’s Resolution

My resolution is to engender the Kentucky Green Party to success.  The two party political system in the United States and Kentucky is hopelessly broken and beyond repair.

Sandra Moon: My New Year’s Resolution

My New Year’s Resolution is to embrace evangelism.

Shanah Tovah. I’ve been on the RP’s staff since the website’s launch, but this is the first long piece I’ve written for this site. I usually stick to short blurbs in the Weekly Web Gems on Faith and Food.  In order to understand my New Year’s resolution, you need to know a little about me.  I’m a progressive/liberal Christian, and a candidate for ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA).  I’m a person of deep faith who tries to respect the religious views of all people, but since I’m only human, I inevitably respect some religious view more than others.  Many mainline Protestants, myself included, shy away from traditional evangelism. I don’t like to push my beliefs onto others. To me, the “E” word sparks images of angry Christians clad in sandwich boards with megaphones in hand, yelling at others about their sinful ways. Telling people that they are damned is contrary to my faith convictions and theological understanding of the Holy.  That being said, this past week, I irreverently used evangelism as a weapon against a con artist, and the result was both bizarre and amazing.  The lesson I learned is that while I  will never agree with the evangelist I meet on a street corner, there may be some value in daring to share my beliefs with others.

One day last week, a man who went by “Tom” called the office where I work, stating that one of our employees owed his company money. We quickly became aware that Tom was nothing more than a con artist working a scam. Tom began calling our office incessantly, often becoming very profane and vulgar on the phone.  He eventually told us that he would not stop calling until we sent him money.  For two days, the phone calls continued, which interrupted our work and tied up our phone lines.  While we tried to remain professional by simply hanging up, our patience eventually waned and we began return insult with insult.  Near the end of the second workday, we came to the realization that nothing we were doing was working. To no successful end, we filed a police report and tried to get the number blocked.  What we needed was an immediate solution because he was driving us crazy.  We were getting desperate, so I told my co-workers to let me answer the phone and try something out.  Since evangelical fundamentalists tend to grate on my nerves, I decided to try out my acting skills and take-on that role in hopes that Tom would get so annoyed that he would hang up on me, and never call back.  I knew it was a long shot, but since no there were no better ideas, I went with it.

The next time Tom called, I answered, and my religious irreverence went something like this (in a loud, preacher-like voice):  “Hi, is this Tom?  I am so glad that you called.  I’m extremely worried about your soul.  I worry that if you continue on your dishonest path, you are headed towards eternal damnation. I believe that your phone calls are actually a gift from God because I now have the opportunity to save a soul.”

No, I didn’t really believe in anything that I told him, and he saw right through my plan.  We were now at war.  Who could outlast the other?  Who would hang up the phone first?  I persisted on by reading him passages from the Bible, praying for him enthusiasticall and asking him to give his life to God.

About 30 minutes into my extreme evangelism, however, something happened and things got real.  I told him that he was obviously a hard-working determined person, and that he should use those God-given talents for good, rather than to steal money from others.  I told him that I understand that he needs to make money to meet his basic needs, but that there were other, honest ways to do so.  Tom responded by telling me about his childhood—his parents died when he was young, so he’s had to do whatever he could to feed himself.  He asked me if I sincerely thought he could lead a different life.  He asked me if I really thought there was a God who loved him.  I had not expected our conversation to take such a turn.  Luckily my seminary training came in handy and I was able to transition from my mocking tone to one of pastoral counselor. Yes, no matter how much this man had angered and harrassed me and my co-workers, I believe in a God of grace and love, and Tom too was a beloved child of God.  Tom and I spoke for another 30 minutes, and I shared my faith convictions with him in a real way.  At the end of our conversation, Tom apologized for all the hurtful things he has said to all of us in the office.  Tom also thanked me—he said that no one in his life had ever spoken to him so kindly.  I have to admit that I felt some guilt since my initial purpose in answering his phone call was to use religion as a weapon to get him to stop calling.  In the end, I got what I wanted.  Tom hung up the phone.  He didn’t hang up out of annoyance as I had originally planned.  He apologized again for what he had done.  I told him that I forgave him and I wished him happiness in life, then we both said goodbye.  We received no more calls from Tom.

My experience with Tom was the motivation behind my New Year’s resolution. Evangelism as a weapon may be effective to annoy con artists.  Embracing an evangelism based in sharing genuine faith convictions, however, may be a way to offer hope to those who need it most.

Jonathon Hubbert: My New Year’s Resolutions

1. Do my part for peace in Jerusalem. 
2. Improve relationships with people on my periphery 
3. Make new acquaintances 
4. Advance technological acceptance.

Carl W. Shoupe: My New Year’s Resolution

The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.  My resolution would be that the coal barons would stop the criminal destruction of the Appalachian mountains. This destruction is being done by coal mining methods called mountain top removal and radical strip mining. Our forests and water resources are being totally destroyed.

Deborah Rufus: My New Year’s Resolution — aTONEment.

October 2011. This is an important time of year for Jews who may be re-evaluating past behavior and re-committing to living a life of meaning and impact. It is a time for reflection, atonement and resolutions, and I do look forward to observing these seasonal rituals. I am told that Jewish New Year resolutions, however, are really not supposed to concern superficial things, so I’m traveling back in time to my New Year’s resolution from January to discuss my biggest disappointment this year.

My butt shoes and I failed each other.

Like many of my friends who are now in our mid forties, gravity has been a constant companion. Some folks rightly see that as impetus for improved diet and regular exercise. Others, however, yearn for a quick fix. Post holiday binge, I was ready for a concerted shape up effort. Surveying my posse of girlfriends in January to determine if anyone had tried the heavily advertised and promoted “toning” shoes, several expressed vague product awareness, but none had tried them personally. I was urged to become the guinea pig for the rest of the group.

The theory is that “toning” shoes, with unstable soles, work your muscles harder, which firms your legs and rear. So I bought some. I walked the dog in them, wore them to soccer games and baseball games, pulled them out of my office desk at lunchtime to replace my pumps. Despite what I would characterize as fairly dedicated effort over a sustained period of time, I did not notice any difference. (My husband told me that he thought I was making progress, but then again, he has to say that.)

I began to suspect that you probably have to wear the shoes 24 hours a day, including in the shower and in bed, in order to have any significant impact. And so, over time, the butt-firming shoes were abandoned, along with several other idealistic New Year’s resolutions.

The big news this week is that Federal Trade Commission has stepped in. Reebok apparently made unsubstantiated claims that the shoes strengthened and toned the buttocks 28% more than regular walking shoes.  Without admitting guilt, the company has agreed to refund up to $25 million to customers. Another “shape up” shoe manufacturer, Skechers, may also be in trouble for making similar bold claims.

Perseverance is an important lesson, and there is no reason to abandon hope. I recently found some brand-name “skin firming” moisturizer at the drug store. It’s clinically proven to reduce the appearance of cellulite for visibly firmer skin. It requires you to regularly massage copious amounts of the product onto what the label characterizes as “problem areas (thighs, hips, buttocks, stomach, upper arms).”

So, while this is no profound resolution, I do think I am starting the season with new resolve and high hopes.  I am also a little more slippery. Check back with me in a year.

Send in Your New Year’s Resolutions for Publication at the RP!

As Jews around the world celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, we will be devoting next week to New Year’s resolutions.

All of next week at The Recovering Politician, our contributors will be sharing their own New Year’s resolutions. And whether you are Jewish, Jew-ish, Gentile, or with no religious beliefs at all, we encourage you to do the same.

Just send us your New Year’s Resolutions to by Saturday at 10 PM.  They can be a sentence or two; or if you prefer, send us a 1500 word essay.  Or anything in between.

Thanks, and we look forward to reading your resolutions in next week’s The Recovering Politician.

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