Archive for the ‘ideas’ Category

Old Wisdom

April 1, 2012

Sometimes a discovery will leave me pleasantly surprised.  We think our world is unique in its technological advancement and sophistication, yet some wisdom is timeless.  Here is my discovery today.

“You know that the beginning is the most important part of any work, especially in the case of a young and tender thing; for that is the time at which the character is being formed and the desired impression is more readily taken…Shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual tales which may be devised by casual persons, and to receive into their minds ideas for the most part the very opposite of those which we should wish them to have when they are grown up?  We cannot…Anything received into the mind at that age is likely to become indelible and unalterable; and therefore it is most important that the tales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thoughts…”

Who do you suppose said this, and how long ago?

Plato

Yoga, Prayer and the difference.

January 6, 2012

“Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way.  With Yoga we become aware of how and where we are restricted—in body, mind and heart—and how gradually to open and release these blockages.  As these blockages are cleared, our energy is freed.  We start to feel more harmonious, more at one with ourselves.  Our lives begin to flow—or we begin to flow more in our lives.”    quote by Cybele Tomlinson.

 I read this quote today on the facebook page of a friend who has been going through a lot of soul searching.  It sounds good, but its really so very, very limited.  Its ultimately all about self, and no one else.  The human condition is such that we are limited and we are lonely.  We can’t solve our problems all alone.   Our problems with our loneliness and limitedness can’t be solved by a limited, lonely self.  Someone once quipped they couldn’t run from their problems because “wherever I go, there I am.”  The self is so constant it becomes a pain.  “Otherness” is as necessary to us as the air we breathe.  Its not so much whats in us that prevents us living a full and whole life, its the need for more than what is in us.  We have to open up.

Rather than Yoga, prayer opens the heart, mind and emotion to the great Other.  The best part of that is this  Other is the only One who has the power and wisdom to truly help us.  No one understands us like God, for He knows us better than we know ourselves.  As we pour out our hearts in prayer, we not only see ourselves more clearly, but we see answers to what we are seeking.  By opening up to Him, we learn to appreciate and love Him back.  This gives us the energy to love others and to have compassion for them.   “We love because He first loved us.”  I John 4:19

Ultimate Makeover

March 25, 2011

When I become convinced, in my mind that Jesus is real, I begin to make significant changs because I admire Him so much.

When I let Jesus into my heart, He does things in me that are life changing, full of joy, and everyone sees a new person.  What does the world see – someone trying to make positive changes in their life or someone whose whole personality has been radically changed?

Prayer when the world seems a mess

March 25, 2011

Lord, thank you for reminding me that You care about the good of our world and about everyone in it.  You care when evil people misrepresent You.  You care when evil people deface the beautiful things You have created.  You care about war, violence, greed and abuse of people and the sacred.  You care about the lost, lonely, sick, misguided and silly people.  You care about everyone I love.  You care about the things that make me sad because they are wrong.  They make You sadder than I’ll ever know.  If I cry over sin in me and others, You wept first, and with more feeling.

Thank you for caring about it all and about me.  And thank you that You are still in control and working out all things for good for all who love You.

How can it be right when it turned out wrong

March 24, 2011

The way things turn out in no way changes the rightness of the original act.  Otherwise the Christians who went to the lions would have been wrong to profess their faith.  The truth of what is said can’t be judged by the treatment of the speaker.  Offending someone may not be wrong if truth were spoken with love and care, even if they are still white hot with anger and vindictiveness.

What Makes Happiness

March 24, 2011

What makes happiness?

1.  Be a friend of God.  Talk to God.  Trust God.

2.  Be grateful.

3.  Love and give.  The fragrance remains on the hand that gives the rose.

4.  Work toward goals that come from the heart.

5.  Learn new things and develop new skills.

6.  Make time to do things that bring enjoyment.

7.  Make time for people who bring joy.  Cultivate nourishing relationships.

8. Laugh.  Make a place for humor and share it.

9.  Capitalize on strengths and talents.

10.  Put beauty in life.

11.  Establish boundaries.

12.  Recognize choices.

Why do they do it?

March 18, 2011

I received a letter from a friend recently.  This man, who retired wealthy, has decided to give up a “Western” comfortable lifestyle and live in West Africa.  He lives in a communal building, sharing a room with two other men.  Their bath consists of a clogged sink, a toilet that flushes maybe one time in 10 because of “city sewer issues”.   The shower has no drain, only a hole leading to the outside, but it works–cold water only.  Rats live under the bed, and food often causes dysentery.  He has lost so much weight nothing fits.  Yet, he is so happy.  He is also well past retirement age.

Why does he do it?  He has sold out to Jesus Christ.  He identifies with the poor as Jesus did, and wants to live among them, sharing the life they live.  He knows for him it was a choice.  They have no choice.  He wants to share the message of God’s love with the poorest of the poor.  And he is able to actually help the poor.  He has a wide variety of skills and a lot of knowledge, and he has helped by starting many projects needing his “know how.”  He doesn’t know how long he will be able to do this, but he takes it a day at a time and lives each day on the “gift of grace.”

I actually know dozens of people who live like this man:  North Americans who live in conditions of hardship to try to make life better for the poor, and to give them hope.  You don’t see these people on the news.  They work quietly, and maybe its for the best, as it would be horrible if they were singled out for acts of terrorism.  As Christians, they work humbly and equally with Christians, Muslims and those who practice ancient religions or no religion.  They would be a goldmine of knowledge on how to get diverse groups to work together.

Why do they do what they do?  In many ways and many words, they all say the same thing.  The love of Jesus changed their hearts and changed their lives.  One man said to me: “When you know about Jesus, admiration for him makes you want to change your life.  When you know Jesus heart to heart, He changes your life and you can never be the same.”  Someone else said, “Jesus puts in so much love it has to come out.”

Hate Speech

January 12, 2011

Having listened to all sorts of opinions on what constitutes hate speech, I have come up with a definition of my own.  If I perceive someone’s speech to threaten  people I agree with, its hate speech.  If they are merely threatening someone else, and I happen to agree with them, then its not hate speech.

Re-reading Literature

February 17, 2010

Now that I have a bit more time than I used to have, I decided to read some American literature.  Its a subject that has always fascinated me.  I think, however prejudicially, that America is a pretty special place, and I wanted to dig into the American psyche a bit more.

I went to the library and checked out some college textbooks on American Literature.  Now, I’m not totally illiterate on the subject.  I read a great deal of good American fiction when I was younger, and have continued reading it through life, although at a slower pace when I was busier.  I understood the elements of a story to be: the main character or hero faces a conflict.  The conflict could be a person, situation, or internal crisis.  The conflict gets resolved, and the story ends either with the problem overcome, or the hero learning something vital, which allows the reader to determine how he will then act on his new knowledge.  However, what I read in the Literature texts, almost exclusively, was something else.  What I read seemed to go like this: the main character is in despair, the book explores dark elements of the human psyche, the main character is searching for meaning or happiness or love, and the climax is discovering it doesn’t exist.  The story ends either explicitly with the character’s death, or implicitly, with the character’s disappointment in his or her quest.  It was all pretty dark, depressing material.  It was amazing that I didn’t remember reading very much of this kind of literature in my youth.  Then it hit upon me that perhaps the selection of literature in these texts is biased toward this very negative kind of story.

Searching farther, I read an article explaining the difference between popular fiction and literature.  I expected to find out that popular fiction was lacking description, had shallow, underveloped characters or the like.  Instead, the difference is that popular fiction has the plot I described above, with a conflict resolution and (according to the author of the article) a “happy ending”.  According to this auth0r, true literature described the human condition as it is, with all its “angst”, and lack of answers.  In other words, real life has no happy endings, and no answers, so to write stories that have either of these is to succumb to the lure of writing popular fiction (with the inferior motive of making money) instead of literature.  Another author stated it was impossible for any Christian fiction to ever be considered literature, because a Christian’s unique belief system precludes any “angst” or despair.

Well, all I can say is I wonder if the requirement to study American Literature in one’s first two years of college  is a good thing.  What if it leads those young, mostly teenage students to believe that life is nothing but despair and meaninglessness?  No wonder there are so many college students on antidepressants!  Their beliefs about life have been shattered.  This is totally unnecessary in my judgment, because there are quite a lot of very happy people in the world: people solving their problems and creating good and beautiful things for their families and their posterity.  The intellectual crowd may be the ones out of synch with the “human condition”.  They are staring in despair at a glass thats all but empty, sure there are no answers to their thirst.  The rest of humanity is out to find the faucet.

A Way to Look at Forgiveness

February 14, 2010

Forgiveness means I don’t allow a few snapshots to color my opinion of the whole film.  I may see a person during one or more bad times, but I haven’t seen their whole life.  Especially important is to remember I haven’t seen the end of the story–theirs or mine.  God still has lots of work to do with all His children, me included.