Sunday, June 9, 2019

Led by a spirit

"..., but he had no principles that were not common to others, if not to all; for others believed in the direct teaching of the Spirit, and these mistook their feelings for the effects of the Spirit, and their transient thoughts for emanations from the Spirit; and being thus enlightened according to their leisure and to the encouragement they gave to their thoughts and fancies, they could frequently see farther than other people into the Scriptures and the will of God, or fancied they could;..."
 How is it that so many people, claiming to be led by the Holy Spirit, claiming to follow Jesus, wind up going so many different directions? The above quote is from a book that was written about Matthias and his “Kingdom of Zion” that he tried to set up in the early nineteenth century. He was able to attach himself to a Bible study group who accepted him first as a prophet and then as ruler.
How is it possible for sincere people, involved in Bible study and prayer, to develop the idea that heaven and hell only really exist here on earth and the idea that souls go to another body when the people die, consequently your spirit match is of greater importance than your legal marriage?
Now, to be fair to the folks in the Kingdom of Zion, people today do many of the same things excusing their behavior on God’s will. We still interpret things idiosyncratically, and we still tend to rely on personal interpretation or whatever preacher/teacher we respect to tell us what scripture means (all while saying that it is just scripture). They had spirit matches, we have soul mates and incompatibility. Plus ├ža change…

Robert Matthews (Matthias actual name) denied Jesus functionally. He claimed to be the Spirit of Truth, having the spirit of Jesus and Matthias the apostle in himself and speaking on behalf of the Father while claiming the title of Father for himself and Mother for his “wife”. It was a bit eerie hearing that Jim Jones demanded that his congregation call him Father and his wife Mother.  While Robert Matthews never denied the existence of God and indeed stressed his own version of Old Testament understanding, Jim Jones ultimately wanted to get his people to leave Christianity, the entire Bible, and any god outside himself behind.
Both men were extremely controlling of those around them. While Jim Jones ultimately was more successful in drawing a large body of people around him and died in their midst while causing many to die rather than relinquish the dream, the control, Matthias did not. After he was accused of killing one of the members of the “kingdom” and beating his daughter who was married, he basically was abandoned by all but one person and wound up wandering the west before fading away into obscurity. We do not know where he died. We do know he had a run in with Joseph Smith.
What spirit led these men to death? I see the seemingly sympathetic smile of the gentleman with cloven foot from the fairy tales I grew up reading. “You want power? You want security? Money? Love? Trust me, I’ll give you what you want. Just follow me.”

Robert Matthews was apparently a natural leader and may have been responsible for a couple of physical deaths to say nothing of the spiritual. Jim Jones was even bigger, more successful, more set against Christianity, responsible for more death. He, too, was a self proclaimed prophet. He too made the claim of being what people called god.
While Jim Jones had a vastly larger following, both of them had people who otherwise would have been considered respectable following after them. How do so many people, some well educated, some apparently devout, become caught up in these movements that bare the fruit of Satan--lies, immorality, and death?

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

In favor of Segregation

We are all a part of the human race, so that is not what I am talking about.  No, something much more intrinsic. Male and female.
As a student teacher, I had a middle school geography class that I had to train for their tests. Now, one class towards the end of the day physically stank.  It was almost all boys, almost all of them were or had been under IEPs. They were a class that was being integrated into the “mainstream” of classes. They were the most engaged in the material.  They talked and batted the ideas around, asked questions, went off topic, but they were involved with the material. The other classes were neither as loud nor as physically stinky, and I certainly had more involvement from the middle school students than from the high school students when I was there, but they were less involved with the material, more hesitant to ask questions or answer them out loud.
As a teacher, I saw this played out in smaller classes.  If I had mostly boys, there were fewer behavioral issues and they stayed on task better.  If I had all girls, they were more relaxed and would talk much more freely about the subject.  They would engage with the material better.
With fairly evenly mixed classes, or classes with more girls than boys the students seemed more concerned about their peers opinions and the attention of the opposite sex.  This was true even down in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade. On days when the girls were absent or out of the classroom for whatever reason, the boys would settle down and work; when there were girls in the classroom, they were more apt to goof off or try to be clever.  When the boys were absent, or when I had a class of just girls, the girls worked more steadily and were more ready to give answers to questions and enter into conversation about the subject material; when boys were present, they were more apt to be giggling or rolling their eyes at the boys or hesitant to answer on one side or becoming super condescending on the other.  These are overall patterns. This is not every boy and girl every day, but it is enough of a pattern to make it much easier to teach all boys or all girls rather than mixed classes.

The all-girls school and all-boys school sort of approach makes sense to me, but what if we were to segregate even just classes? This is the young ladies English class, the young men's English class--same curriculum, just separate classes? Bring them together for set activities and presentations--they do, after all, need to learn to communicate with each other--but allowing them space from each other in order to, ideally, grow more freely.  This, I am certain, would encourage academic growth in the students, but only if the teachers themselves were committed to teaching academics and not ideology.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A Woman who communicated

        Arrival is about so much more than aliens coming to earth and a linguistics professor and a physicist working with their teams to try to communicate. It is pretty amazing.

So, Emily was probably going to pick this movie that none of us had watched and I blanked out on that bit of info and watched it on my own before we watched it together. It is a movie well worth a re-watch. In a way, it is like watching 6th Sense over again, I saw things from a different perspective having seen the ending, and consequently, I saw a lot more of what was going on. For that reason, I am not going to tell many details, I will however say that this shows an amazing development in the main lady, from desolate to really consciously living. She becomes captivating.

It is a quiet sort of movie; I recall very little vulgar or offensive language; the violence is second hand; and there is no excessive sensuality at all. What humor is present is quiet. The colors are quiet, often blue-toned, lending to a sort of melancholy feel. There were a few moments when the music seemed a bit heavy handed, but I can kind of understand why they would play those sounds when they did—thematically. It still drove me out of the scene a little. Speaking of scene, the filmography was beautiful. I loved the use of clouds and wind on the one hand and TV and intercom screens on the other.

On the writing, I loved how minor characters still felt like living people; they made good use of background and side interactions. One character speaks pretty dismissively of a lot of the people at the camp that is set up near the alien shell in Montana. It seems as though maybe the writer was not quite so dismissive. Rather in contrast to that is the attitude of the colonel who fetches the civilians who are helping out. He tells Ian, the physicist, and Louise, the linguist, after they started sparring a little over the importance of math versus language, that “That is why you're both here. And I'll get your coffee.” He seemed like he would be one of those heroes that nobody knows about; he just goes and does his best to do whatever job he has with the least amount of fuss and fewest casualties possible.

For Louise's part, she is pretty intense as she gets into this figuring out the aliens thing keeping in mind the end goal. It was interesting to watch that, especially as a teacher interested in languages. One of her first, though not the first, break-through moments with the aliens comes when she removes some of her protective gear and identifies herself with her name instead of just the generic “human” identifier. That really made the guys backing them up nervous-- “Do we abort?” While most were concerned about security, potential dangers, the aliens as potential threat, Louise saw them as beings with which to communicate, potential teachers, even. She personalized the communication, and that is what started the breakthrough to be able to understand the aliens.

Like I said, I do not want to give away to much about the plot, so I will leave you with those tid-bits and one more: the aliens are named Abbot and Costello.

Cowards and Courage, a few little thoughts

Cowards no entran en la reina de Dios (It says so in Revelations 21, for example)

How can I live for God if fears control me? So I need then, to live inspired by the love of God. There is no room for hypocrisy, no room for timidity.
 “Seek first the kingdom of God.” Our heavenly Father knows that we need food and clothing, but calls us to seek first the kingdom. Not even a sparrow can fall to the ground without him knowing it. How much more aware is he of our needs, concerns, desires? But, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
God never promised luxury or ease, but he does promise to be with us, “even to the end of the age.” He bids us take up our cross and follow him. He promises, in essence, struggle and affliction, but he also tells us that his yoke is easy and his burden light. How can this be? Because as we rely on his grace, he is the one holding us up. Love makes even the greatest burdens light.
Love inspires us to surmount the insurmountable, to face down the dragons, to scale cliffs, to confront our enemies, to love our annoying siblings or classmates. Love gives us courage. Jeremiah could not face the Israelites, if it were not for a love for God. Catherine of Alexandria could not have faced down the scholars and the governor, had it not been for her passion for Jesus her saviour. I could not have become Catholic, facing my mother's disapproval were it not for the love of Jesus.

When God's love fills us, that is when we have courage. Couer—heart our heart is made strong by God's love.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Holding hands

Father asked us why we joined across the aisles holding hands.
Some gave response, “T’ show we are one community of believers.”
“To show unity in prayer.”
He observed that this tradition of ours was started in the seventies; it is nowhere in the mass. Fine as it may be, it actually disrupts the first part of the prayer. As we set things down and spread out seeking hands to hold, maybe forcing in some recalcitrants, we lose a beautiful part of this pivotal prayer in the mass. “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
By the time we say “Give us” we are back into the prayer.

I wonder, is this part of our problem in Christianity today? We are so focused on the doings and the hand-holding. Do we forget to stand still in the presence of Our Father to seek his will? Do we forget that God Our Father has a transcendent will that is not encompassed by our missions, our desires and comforts? Do we forget Our Father because we are so caught up with our brothers and sisters?