Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Oh My...

I don't have cable or satellite television at home, so whatever I watch comes form the internet. I have happily allowed this to limit my viewing. This week I'm staying at a hotel in Grande Prairie and dealing with limited internet access (it comes and goes), so I'm watching television again. It turns out that I haven't really been missing much.

It isn't all bad. I've watched some Jeopardy and a few dramas and episodes of The Big Bang Theory and that's been fun. Tonight, though, I was bored and decided to check out Toddlers and Tiaras. All I could think was, what is wrong with these people????? The children are so totally spoiled and you cannot convince me that they all want to be in the pageants. Some of them are not quite 2 years old. And the moms...they're all paranoid and scary. You can tell that it's all about them and how their daughter's win (or loss) reflects on them. They need a life of their own so they can let the children be children. Speaking of which...who dresses a 5 year old up as Sandy from the end of Grease, complete with big hair and a cigarette? Her mom spent a lot of time trying to justify it, like she was really trying to convince herself that it was okay. The other little girls weren't much better. It actually made me very sad and I wanted to bring them all home and let them be children.

I think I had better stop watching most television again. It upsets me too much.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Busy, Busy

Work is busy, but only for another week or so and then the kids go back to school.

School is busy, although it's a bit lighter than other years. There's enough to keep me busy but not enough to overwhelm me.

So...since life seems to be manageable starting in September, I've gone and added to it! Because a break would be a bad thing, right?

This year I'm writing my own Sunday School material. It's based on my Worship and Wisdom class so it's not entirely original. Still, it will take some work to turn 5 days of school into 30 lessons. I'm contemplating making worksheets to take home. The advantage is that they will have something to bring home and remember what I taught. The disadvantage is that it means more work for me!

I also made the mistake of admitting to the elder that I have time to read now since I don't have any reading for school. He asked me to write a book review for one of the books I recently read and then handed me another book to read and review again.

The problem is that I most enjoy the Sunday School and book review work, which means that the only stuff I could give up is the stuff I most want to keep!

On the plus side, I can share some of the book review material here and save me the trouble of thinking up original stuff every week.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

A Song from this Morning

I've been spending all month in Junior Church making sure the teachers are trained and ready to go for the fall. This is what I've been singing lately...


Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Power of Books

When I was a child I couldn't always distinguish between fiction and non-fiction. I understood that fairy tales were not true, as well as anything with fairies, magic, imaginary countries, or talking animals. My problem was with human characters in at least somewhat realistic situations and real places. Sometimes I knew they were fiction and other times I though they might be real.

For example: Anne of Green Gables. For years, I though Anne had been a real person. This belief was helped by two facts. First, I read the book when I was 7 and at that age the difference between reality and fantasy is a bit fuzzy for a lot of children (side note: In one book at work they were supposed to be finding the word that would make the sentence fantasy. The choices were ant and elf. One small child was confused because they were both real.). Second, I actually visited Green Gables in Prince Edward Island. Listen: if you want children to understand about fiction and novels, do NOT bring them to the home of their favorite story book heroes! I don't know when I knew that Anne was imaginary. I think it was one of those things that I gradually grew to understand. It wasn't really a big deal (but some part of me still wants her to be real).

It probably didn't help that I read a lot of non-fiction at the time. One of my favorite books when I was growing up was Karen by Marie Killilea. Karen is a real person and I knew that, so it might count for some of the confusion (side note: I still love Karen and the sequel With Love from Karen and I highly recommend them). I also read books on my parents' shelves in the living room. As I recall, there were books about different countries and some picture encyclopedias of some sort. I loved reading them.

And that brings me to the point. Among those books on my parents' shelves was a book of short stories. I don't remember the title or the author or any of the stories except one. There was (I think) a police chief and a detective of some sort down in South America or somewhere (obviously some of the details have become a bit fuzzy over the years). There were dead people who had been stripped of all their flesh: just skeletons left in the houses...or something like that. This much I know for sure: they finally determined that it was done by a swarm of giant ants who marched through houses (and possibly villages) and devoured anything and anyone they could. No one could stop them and they were heading north.

That lack of distinction between fiction and non-fiction,combined with a vague understanding of geography that consisted of knowing only that we lived in the north, left me very, very concerned about the giant ants. They were heading in our direction and no one was talking about it. Why weren't we warned about the coming ants?

I don't recall asking anyone about it and I think it mostly left my mind after a while. Well, it never quite left: I do remember wondering about it sometimes but no one else seemed worried. I think it joined the list of things that might happen but probably not.

Okay...I'm all grown up now and I understand the difference between fiction and non-fiction. I know that there is no swarm of ants headed our way. I also understand geography better and know that they would never make it here anyway. Still...when I see one of those really big ants, I stay out of his way just in case he is preparing his attack and has an army just out of sight.

And that, people, is the power of books.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

When and Where

I've been thinking lately about how to talk with people when I disagree with them or wonder if they have thought things through fully. I'm not talking about little things, but the big stuff that involves God and the Bible: the important stuff. There's a lot of stuff that I'm willing to leave alone, mostly involving politics, because people get too emotional and angry. Of course, that's how they are when God is involved as well, which is why I usually keep silent, but now I'm not sure if I should, or when I should speak up.

This is what experience has shown me: things like Facebook are likely not the best place for these discussions. I've read things that people have posted and asked questions to clarify or expressed a different opinion, and generally people ignore what I've said. It seems that they don't want to engage in any type of discussion; they want to express their opinion and that's it. And I'm okay with that; I've opened the door for further conversation, and if they don't want to, that's their choice. Other times, people go straight to defensive and won't listen (or read, as the case may be) or go straight to the "agree to disagree" conversation closer. In the end, I've concluded that most people on Facebook do not want to discuss or think more about what they've posted (although there are some exceptions).

Twitter...well, I don't even have Twitter and I really don't understand how people actually have debates via Twitter. It's strange!

Which brings me to blogs. I read a variety of blogs and the comment sections can get rather...interesting. Some bloggers have measures in place to moderate the comments while others let anything go. The later tend to disintegrate into people refusing to listen to anyone who disagrees and trying to take over the comments so no one can respond. Too many bloggers (although of blogs that I rarely read) either remove comments that disagree or get defensive. Here's my opinion: unlike Facebook, which is intended for short comments and is semi-private, blogs are out there for the world to read. If you're going to blog, you need to accept that people might disagree with you and either be prepared to discuss (or redirect or refuse to allow for hostile takeovers when commenters will not listen or act with some respect) or close the comment section.

So...sometimes it's worth trying to engage people in blog comment sections, and sometimes it isn't.

Which brings me to this blog. Is it the right time and place for me to talk about ideas and such that people have that I think are incorrect or not thought through well? I really don't know. I don't know if I have the time to discuss things if there are disagreeing comments. I don't know if I have the time to do the research to make sure my position is correct. I don't know what my purpose would be in bringing up more controversial topics: to get attention? to help set the record straight? to show a different way of looking at things? And internet discussion is tough because of the time between comments (it isn't a conversation in the traditional sense of the word) an the potential for misunderstanding.

I guess what it comes down to is evaluating my own motives and deciding if the internet is the right place to discuss things and if I want to get away from "safe" blogging.

I don't have any answers, just questions. I'll take any advice you might have on this one, though.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Jesus, Joy of the Highest Heaven

Yes, I know that it's a Christmas carol. I really like it, though, so I'm sharing it with you.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Misused Bible Verses

Today, for your reading enjoyment...a book review!
I picked up The Most Misused Verses in the Bible by Eric J. Bargerhuff when I was at Masters last month. I read most of it on the trip home. It's an easy read with sound teaching and I enjoyed it. It's subtitled "Surprising Ways God's Word is Misunderstood" although I didn't find many surprises in it. Most of the verses I'd heard misused (and some I have misused myself in the past), although there were a couple unexpected verses.
Bargerhuff looks at 17 different verses (or passages) that are misused. I am not going to go through them all, although I will list the references for you here:
Just some notes about it.
First, I had never heard Proverbs 4:23 misused. It seems that it's used by people to keep from getting close to others. I also did not know that John 12:32 (which is about Jesus being lifted up on the cross) was the basis for lifting up the name of Jesus. Those were the ones that surprised me.

Second, he doesn't quite make it on Proverbs 22:6. He's quite right that proverbs are principles, not promises. This should at least comfort people who do everything right and still get rebellious children. At the same time, he misses what the verse is really saying. It's more of a warning: if you start a child out in the way he wants to go, he will never, ever turn from it. (Read God's Wisdom in Proverbs, appendix 3, by Dan Phillips, for the full explanation).

Third, Bargerhuff is absolutely correct in his emphasis on context. So many of these verses wouldn't be misused if people refrained from pulling them from the Bible and ignoring their immediate context. You can't do that. You have to read the Bible as a whole. That is why I encourage people to have their Bibles open in church and when reading Christian books to double check what is being said. And you need to know your Bible.

Overall: I think this is an excellent book and a very useful reference tool. It doesn't hurt to double check your own favourite verses as well.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

What It Isn't

I'm still sorting out thoughts and emotions here. I thought I'd try figuring out what's happening by looking at it backwards.

What I'm dealing with is not...

A new way of "experiencing" God that has moved me to a new level beyond all the "regular" Christians. And trust me...I haven't reached some amazing level where I'm suddenly sinless!

A sudden epiphany that will fade in a couple days and not leave me changed (I hope...but already I'm finding some changes in how I'm thinking and reacting).

Based only on emotion. It's a combination of understanding and emotion...but being me, the emotion is harder to deal with, so it comes up more frequently.

Okay, that's all I have for today.