Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sitting with the ashes…

I just read an article in the November edition of Reader’s Digest called “Love, Faith and War.” It is a short article (duh…Reader’s Digest, after all) about two chaplains in Afghanistan. Very well written….with carefully chosen quotes and situations that brought the story to life.

I checked the RD website to see if the story was on the internet but I couldn’t find it.  (There is an article called “Fifty Secrets Nurses Won’t Tell You”…..interesting read….and a bunch of other interesting titles)

There was a snippet, a quote by Capt. David Knight, that stuck out.

“Much of the chaplains job, he says, is not resolving problems or offering advice but simply being present as the patients and the staff cope with terrible situations”

“You need to be OK with people hurting, he says.”

He calls this sitting with the ashes, a reference to the Biblical story of Job, who lost his family, his health, and all his possessions.  “He was sitting in the ashes mourning and his friends came and sat with him,” he says. 

Now granted, Job’s friends are infamous for their “miserable comforting” techniques…..but perhaps there is a lesson to be learned there too.  What not to do when we sit in the ashes with someone who is hurting. 

As a mom, I’ve had to sit with the ashes.  All three of my kids have had difficulties and heartache in their lives.  Many times….most times…they brought it on themselves.  There have been times when, out of futility and necessity,  I’ve stopped beating my head against the brick wall of trying to control the situation and simply been there with them in the ashes. 

Right now, one of my kids is going through a challenging situation.  Nothing that will matter all that much ten years from now, but a costly, most definitely avoidable mistake that involves a lot of unpleasant untangling and damage control.  And I’m sitting with the ashes. 

And it hurts like hell to watch someone you love in distressing situations.  Especially your kids.  Especially your “mom, I’m and adult now” kids.  They are….yet they aren’t.  A time of transition…with one foot still in the old world of childhood and dependency….but the other foot in a new world of “I’m my own person and can do what I want.”

And I wonder if God feels that way about us.  He tells us, he warns us, he guides us….but sometimes we get that rebellious burst of “I’m my own person and can do what I want.” And when things fall apart, he sits with us in the ashes. 

I know he does because I’ve felt his presence very strongly in the ashes.  And I believe his heart aches for us when we make a mess of things….and he promises that he will (eventually)bring beauty out of the ashes…..


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Choose Your Contradiction….

I came upon a snippet in an essay I was rereading this week…for the umpteenth time,The Voice of the Good Shepherd on the God Quest website.  I highly recommend the essay…and all the other writings on the website. 

This article deals with the “two voices” running throughout scripture' (mainly the Old Testament) where in one passage God gives meticulous instructions about the who, what, when and where concerning sacrifice and in another passage God asks incredulously….WHO told you to do that?

What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. When you come to appear before me, who asked this from your hand?

There are numerous….hundreds….of places where the Bible contradicts itself.  God bashers delight in these contradictions. This “proves” to them that the Bible is nothing but a collection of hogwash.   

If taken at face value, the Old Testament God is pyscho to the nth degree….and detestable, as voiced by Thomas Paine in The Age of Reason. 

"Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel."

The Bible is written to the spiritual man (a head nod to Keith, who first taught me this concept) but the problem is that in this realm, our understanding is tainted by our carnality.  And we twist and adapt and interpret the words of scripture to fit our beliefs. 

It’s a cliché, and oft repeated, but you truly can prove anything from the Bible.  And volumes have been written propping up bullshit theologies using the words of scripture as the basis. 

The snippet, I came upon in this insightful essay…..

Choose your contradiction. 

Because in fact, we all do.  We focus on the verses that prop up our (bullshit?) theologies and ignore, or explain away or trivialize the verses that do not conform to our beliefs. 


That’s because the veil has not been completely rent…and our spiritual understanding is sometimes contaminated by our carnal thinking. 

My personal benchmark for interpreting scripture is to filter everything in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation through the image of the invisible God who has been revealed to us by Jesus.

My friend annie…her filter is “God is Light. God is Love. And in Him there is no darkness.”

We all have our filters.  We all have our blinders.  We all choose our contradictions.  Choose carefully.  Choose prayerfully. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Sufficient Realization of Love…..

I’ve been sorting through (and compiling) a lot of old files and writings that I have stashed on various programs here and there and everywhere.  On my computer…..flashdrives…in Zoho Docs and Zoho Notebook…on this blog (published and in draft form)…saved in Evernote and Mozilla Scrapbook….and my most recent favorites, Springpad, Dropbox and Sugar Sync.

(My ultimate goal is to write an E-book…more on that in an upcoming post)

One of the benefits of going through old stuff is finding lost treasures that have new meaning, especially when combined with snippets and excerpts and original thoughts from more recent eras. 

This post is a compilation of just such a mish mash.  And it deals with the atonement.  One of my pet topics….

God may thunder His commands from Mount Sinai and men may fear, yet remain at heart exactly as they were before. But let a man once see his God down in the arena as a Man--suffering, tempted, sweating, and agonized, finally dying a criminal's death--and he is a hard man indeed who is untouched.

- J.B. Phillips, "Your God Is Too Small

Not untouched….nor ultimately unchanged. So unlike the substitutionary/penal satisfaction view of the atonement that declares a sin- offended God must extract his pound of flesh before he can forgive us. 

But God was in Christ…reconciling the world…

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends


…a sufficient realization of love breaks down all barriers and melts the hardest heart…... 

Love Will Conquer
There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer;
no disease that enough love will not heal;
no door that enough love will not open;
no gulf that enough love will not bridge;
no wall that enough love will not throw down;
no sin that enough love will not redeem . . .
It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble;
how hopeless the outlook;
how muddled the tangle;
how great the mistake.
A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all.
If only you could love enough you would be the happiest and most powerful being in the world . . .
Emmet Fox

A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all….

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Uh-oh….Better trade in that iPhone, Margie….

I came upon an article this morning….on a blog I follow called Jesus Needs New PR….that talked about the irony of Margie Phelps posting the WBC’s plans to picket Steve Jobs memorial on Twitter….via the iPhone. 

Google it, articles about her twitter feed abound….



And later…she twittered her self righteous, self justifying, delusional rationalization…as hypocritical religious zealots are inclined to do…

Rebels mad cuz I used iPhone to tell you Steve Jobs is in hell.God created iPhone for that purpose! :)

Mmmmm—hmmmm.  Sure he did, Margie. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Raven Foundation Revisited

Back in 2008, I wrote a post about a new (then) site that focused on mimesis, mimetic rivalry and Girard’s theory called The Raven Foundation.  By (divers and sundry) happenstance  I found myself there again tonight. 

My how they’ve grown!!!

There is so much information there for anyone interested in learning about mimetic rivalry.  There are a lot of links at the top of the page.  Hover over and a drop down list appears with a plethora of links to blogs, movie reviews, events, online study guides that all deal with Girard’s theory of mimesis, mimetic rivalry and scapegoating.  The focus is on how an understanding of mimetic rivalry can further the cause of peace on earth, goodwill to men. 

It really is worth a visit….but if you explore even a few of the many resources available there.  plan to stay awhile.

Oh and a side note…in my original blog post….several years ago, I linked to an article called Girard For Dummies.  It is now a dead link and unfortunately, I can’t find the article anywhere else online.