Monday, October 30, 2006

What a Woman Thinketh in Her Heart, So Is She

When I was 18, just out of high school and newly liberated from a stifling homelife, I visited a comparatively liberal OALC family whose daughters would become my first housemates. On their coffee table was a pamphlet titled "As A Man Thinketh." Browsing through it, I became rather excited by its focus on grace, which seemed so at odds with the OALC, but fit perfectly with the loving, joyful spirit in that family. Emboldened, I offered to recite my graduation speech for them, a meditation on "love your enemies," which was very well received. So well, in fact, that I gave those impossibly kind parents my only written copy, confident that I could never forget the words of my first real public performance.

Ha.

They are long forgotten, As was the incident itself until hp3's recent message.

hp3 said...

I attended a church that I really liked (an Assembly of God). The pastor said he refused to preach about 'details of sin.' His philosophy was that wherever your thoughts and focus were at, thats where you would end up too. (imagine that!) So instead of focusing on what NOT to do -and ending up there; he preached that you should focus on what TO DO. if you turn TOWARDS Christ you automatically turn AWAY from the world. Imagine you can only literally face one direction at a time and the opposite direction is at your back. So his focus was on turning towards Christ. That was his response to addiction, struggles with sin and how to live one's life. I loved it and have never felt so nourished in my faith and had it be so easy to commit a little less sin (I'm making no claims to perfection :)


MTH and I responded with loud amens. But what do you think?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Responding to An Addict

My otherwise eloquent husband has an inelegant expression for bores. He says "Man, he tires my butt."

Laestadianism does that to me. For a school project last week, our daughter needed a heavy book in which to press some colorful leaves. I gave her a Postilla and smiled to think it was actually being put to a good use. Laestadius the botanist might have approved.

But Laestadius the preacher? Who cares? He tires my butt. If I never read another word of his, hallelujah.

Which is not to say that Laestadians themselves are butt-tiring. Not all. For example, I just heard third-hand about an OALCer of advanced years who called his "worldly" daughter and asked her to forgive him for not greeting her with God's peace (euphemism for more general shunning). She did. He cried in gratitude.

He is not the guy, I'm sure, who keeps visiting this site and voting for "The One True Christianity" on my silly poll. No, that person is, shall we say, butt-tiring.

But beloved all the same, of course.

Recently I came upon this website and found it apropos. Here is an excerpt:

"The real issue with these people (fundamentalists) is not their specific faiths. It's their addiction to thinking they are right. It's an addiction to believing they have a corner on the market of truth. In other words, it's an addiction to a "made-truth," that is, to a belief that the truths they've created in their minds are indeed absolute truths and that everyone else must be made to believe in the same truths lest they perish.

They are addicts. And like other addicts, they do not respond to logic or sound arguments. Like other addicts, in order to feel good, they must believe that their made-truth is the only reality, and they must, therefore, defend that truth against any outside influence. Like other addicts, anyone who threatens to keep them from believing their made-truths is seen as a threat to their own good feelings - or in other words, to be opposed to their brand of made-truth is to be a threat to their personal value as humans, and thus they will attack with ferocity anyone who even questions their veracity. If you don't believe as they do, you are considered "lost." If you oppose their political positions, you are considered "blinded by the Devil." And if you have the gall to argue against their made-truths, you will be called nothing short of "demon possessed" or a "tool of Satan."

But, as with any other addict, you should not take their attacks personally. These people are not to be feared; they are to be rebuffed. They are not to be taken seriously; they are to be pitied. They are not to be counter-attacked with anger; they are to be helped out of their addiction by replacing their need for made-truth with the healing touch of human love and kindness."


Anyone want to comment on what that "healing touch" looks like? Is it possible on a blog?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Markus

Hello friends. Markus over at Finding a Home for the Journey needs our support, having been recently diagnosed with cancer. Perhaps some of you have been through that valley before, and can help him find rest beside the cool waters.

While I am preoccupied with other things this month and won't be updating as frequently, I encourage you to comment on any subject you like and keep the community going. (I've added a quiz just for fun, and updated my profile photo.)

God be with us.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Random (Clean) Thoughts

MTH wrote: Say, Free, I wonder if we could have a running topic heading called something like "Random Thoughts," on which we could post our . . . random thoughts. For instance, in the middle of a very busy weekend, I had a thought about the phrase, "Cleanliness is next to Godliness." Now, I don't in any way condone sloth, but I did have the suspicion that this phrase was invented by some compulsive neatnik as a put-down for her less obsessive sisters. Or perhaps some poor husband with a slovenly wife could get nowhere so consulted the local imam and got permission to invoke God on his behalf.
As a corollary, why don't we have a phrase that says, for instance, "Charity is next to Godliness?" A more fitting expression, I would say.

cvow replied: Sorry MTH, but that phrase cleanliness is next to Godliness was more likely coined by a neatnik wife who was trying to shame her poor husband into dusting and vacuuming and cleaning his office and shop. I do those things but stop short of the bathrooms and kitchen, where my cleaning talents would be woeully inadequate. Oh man am I gonna get it . . .


MTH, as a casual housekeeper, I've always rebelled at that phrase and was amused to discover that originally, it was directed at personal hygiene. Personal hygiene is nice. While I relax my standards on camping trips, I kind of like the American obsession with frequent bathing. Perfumes not so much (it really should be illegal to ruin someone's enjoyment of a movie or opera by soaking oneself in Eau de Moufette beforehand). But soap and water are very good things.

"Cleanness of body was ever deemed to proceed from a due reverence to God." Francis Bacon, "Advancement of Learning," 1605

"Let it be observed that slovenliness is no part of religion; that neither this nor any text of Scripture condemns neatness of apparel. Certainly, this is a duty, not a sin. Cleanliness is indeed next to Godliness." John Wesley, "Sermon 93: On Dress," 1791

While their words sound nutty today, they may have been motivated by public health concerns, not just delicacy. Hygiene back then being what it was . . . scant. Imagine Wesley preaching to a rank congregation, fresh from the morning chores, in go-to-meeting woolens that never saw soap. Unshaven, pipe-smoking, tobacco chewing farmers taking communion from a common cup. With a farmer's disdain for fancy ways ("neatness of apparel" bah!).

But "Godliness"? Puhleez.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Halloween

After the recent posts about Halloween, I thought I'd start a new thread on the subject. My OALC family celebrated Halloween, and I have happy memories of home-made costumes and trick-or-treating in our suburban Minneapolis neighborhood. There were houses that thrilled (full-size candy bars) and houses that didn't (sticky candy popcorn balls in wax paper). We had pillowcases for treats, and after we little kids came home tired, the big kids made their rounds. Later, we would tally and trade. I loved Smarties, but thought Necco wafers tasted like chalk. Still do.

One year my older sister and I were Indian princesses in "buckskin" (brown cloth) and long braids. One year I was an angel in a repurposed pillowcase with gold rickrack. A big brother (now an OALC preacher) took a photograph of me flying on the picnic table. Another year I was Pippy Longstocking with a coathanger wired through my braids. The brothers were usually cowboys or hoboes, with coffee grounds for whiskers. It was more of a carnival than a parade of horrors. I don't remember anything scarier than ghosts.

WIth our own children, we've tried to emphasize that carnival aspect, and until recently made their costumes (a favorite: our tubby, tuneful 1-year old dressed as a Wagnerian opera singer, complete with with breastplate and helmet and gold braids). As with their birthday celebrations, we've emphasized imagination and discouraged Disney or other commercial characters.

This year our daughter (after a few years of princessy ideation) is yearning to be a big, white dog (inspired by her little, white dog). I get to be their veterinarian, pockets stuffed with kibble.

Our son, who has avoided all things ghoulish in the past, asked this year if he could purchase a skeleton costume (a black bodysuit with plastic bones on it). Given the alternatives available, it was fairly tame, and I thought his rationale profound. He said "I get really, really scared, but if I look scary, then I can scare away the scary stuff before it gets me." Having had death on our minds so much lately, I think this is also his way of being brave about it. I bought the costume, and darned if he isn't the cutest skeleton I've every seen. Of course I didn't tell him that.

And I hope it isn't a trend. There is a difference between looking scary and looking gruesome. Some of the costumes I've seen make me question the wearer's sanity!

We'll go trick-or-treating while my husband tends to the parade that shows up at our door, and afterward, the kids will tally and trade, save a dozen pieces, and sell the rest to daddy, who will take it to work for his candy-loving coworkers.

I'm looking forward to Halloween. Like with so much else, what WE make of it is what matters.