Archives For Inspiring

Things that inspire me and help me get closer to my Creator

This is a continuation of the post about two distinctive worldveiws so prevalent in our society today. Let me say up front that even with violating my self imposed 500 word limit on posts this will only very lightly touch on the matter of good or evil. Lets pull a couple of quotes from yesterday’s post to concentrate on here.

Still, the distinction is real and important — and its implications touch on areas of our cultural life far beyond criminal justice. It helps to explain, for example, the very different ways that Platonic liberals and Pauline conservatives approach sex — with the former willing to trust in the power of rational sex education to help shape behavior, and the latter much more concerned about their children succumbing to sinful temptation no matter how many rational arguments they’re exposed to. 

SOURCE:  The real fault line in the culture war isn’t race or sex. It’s sin..

Different worldviews depending on whether you are a Platonic liberal or a Pauline conservative is an interesting concept.  I don’t necessarily agree with the liberal/conservative tags added but be that as it may. I will acknowledge that most people can probably be classified as one or the other of these groups. And then there are people like me, and I hope many others, who might look at it from a different angle.

As I always like to point out this issue is not black/white, Plato/Paul but instead shades of both. As the quote from yesterday said it is too simplistic that one view holds people as good and the other as people are evil because they are always sinful.  Let’s look at Paul and his teaching first.

In order to understand the words of Paul so dominant in the Christian bible you must look at his life’s experiences to see how his philosophy was shaped. Paul was first and foremost a Jewish scholar. He was all about rules. Rules on how to live, what to eat, how to pray, rules about everything. These rules are to keep you from sinning. Paul’s education and everything about him was jewish. When he saw his vision on the road to Damascus it made him realize that he had part of  it wrong. But only part. Since he was a very educated man he wrote much about his new-found faith but intertwined it with his jewish beliefs of rules and sin. I am one of those who align with Thomas Jefferson’s thoughts that Paul took the simple messages of Jesus and made them complicated.

Plato on the other hand generally believed in the goodness of man. He believed that this innate goodness came from our creator and was deeply embedded in us. He was more about shedding off faulty traditions than about rules. Plato was a very complicated guy but for this discussion his idea of innatism is at the center.  Innatism is a philosophical doctrine that holds that the mind is born with ideas/knowledge, and that therefore the mind is not a ‘blank slate’ at birth and that knowledge is generally about wanting to become one with your creator. Therefore he, unlike Paul,concluded that man is at his foundation good as it comes from God who is good.

Plato or Paul?  To me these are two different interpretations of how to live our lives. I personally gather some insight from both but probably align more with Plato. As my Quaker friends say I believe that “there is the light of God in all of us” and that light was given to us by our creator. But I also recognize that temptations are always there. So am I a Platonic liberal or a Pauline conservative?  I am a shade of grey somewhere in between.

Fear is perhaps the most dominant emotion in our society today and it seems especially among white population in the southern States.  Everyone outside that area recognizes that the “red” States are for the most part very conservative, rural, and fundamentalist Christian. When I came across this article over at Red Letter Christians it got my attention because it was from a woman who I would guess is from the South. She seems to genuinely want to help all southerners realize that much of their fears are not from themselves but from the lessons they have learned from those who came before them. Here are some words from that article.

2015-01-23_11-12-45White friends in America’s Southland, we are living in a scary world. In any given month it seems there are fresh stories of black people marching in protest, Muslim terrorists attacking, non-English speakers crossing our borders. Anyone overhearing us can tell we are afraid – of being attacked, of being taken over, of losing the power that has always belonged to us white people…

Our fears are confirmed through the media we choose to follow. Most Southern white folk prefer conservative cable news, listen to conservative talk radio, and attend small Christian churches where the leaders get their fears from the same news channel and talk shows. All of this confirms our fears, and the religious component adds even more glue, cementing our fears into our view of God.

Why do these media outlets, talk show hosts, and certain renowned religious leaders confirm our fears? We Southern white people are such a large block of people that, as hard as it is for us to ever admit it, we are being manipulated and used by many of these entities. They are getting rich and powerful by feeding our fears, and they have all learned that our Christian religion is so important to most of us that all they have to do is throw God into their mix and we will follow them anywhere. What’s sad, but not new, is that many of us will perpetuate these fears even when we do not benefit from them.

As Christians we believe that God is far greater and far more complex than our finite human minds can begin to conceive. We also believe that God sent Jesus to model for us how we should live as human beings. Jesus did not live in the South, nor even in America, but in the Middle East where there were cultural taboos against interacting with Samaritans, touching lepers, talking to women . . . But Jesus broke the taboos. Jesus condemned the churchy people who were more interested in rules and laws than in human beings. He preached unity for all his followers, and reaching out in active love to all people. And humility.  Humility–the hard first step to allowing God to change our own stubborn and proud minds.

SOURCE: Dear White Christians: Let’s Talk About Our Fears | Kathy Vestal | Red Letter Christians.

My wife and I watched a DVR copy of the recent TV movie entitled “Amish Grace” last night. This is the movie about the man who shot ten girls in an Amish school house a few years back and then took his own life. Six of the girls died. The main theme of the movie was about forgiveness and not letting hate overpower you. The Amish community in Pennsylvania where it happened quickly forgave the man who committed the act and even helped the family of the murderer cope with the tragedy. As I have mentioned in the past the commitment to God that the Amish have totally impresses me. Fortunately the movie did not focus on the brutal act itself but instead on the forgiveness. It would have been very easy for most people who experienced this kind of tragedy to be filled with hate for the perpetrator.

This movie got me to thinking about just where hate comes from. Many discount the works of Satan in this world. They say that he is not a real being but instead just a concept. But I do believe that Satan exists and that hate is his primary tool for ensnaring his victims. It seems that there is much hate in the U.S. today so I guess I would say that Satan might be getting a strangle hold on us as a society. Being a U.S. history buff I am well aware that political partisanship has been a constant in one degree or another throughout our history. But I believe that it is morphing into something much more dreadful in very recent years among some of us. This is evidenced by the recent decision of several well respected people in congress who have decided to not run for re-election this year. Most often one of the primary reasons for not running is the tainted atmosphere in Washington today.

On a recent trip to Kansas I visited the high school that has been turned into a memorial to the Brown vs. the Board of Education lawsuit that started racial integration in the 1960’s. One picture on a wall is of a young girl, probably in the late teens, that is screaming at one of the black kids entering the segregated high school in Little Rock. I had seen this picture several times before but for some reason this time the pure hatred on the face of the girl totally struck me. I included a photo of it at the top of this post and as you can see it was a very scary thing. I often wonder about that young girl and how her life might be today. I have even said prayers for her even though I don’t know her. But that was not the last time I have seen that same look. It was also evident on several faces in the recent Tea Party rally in Washington that was protesting the healthcare reform law that recently passed. Their very antagonistic placards were also evidence of that hatred. Now I am not saying that all people in that rally were hateful but the ones shown in those pictures definitely were filled with hate. It was obvious from their faces and their signs. It was again a scary reminder of Satan’s presence in the world today.

“Filled with hate” is a very appropriate term. Hate starts out grabbing a small corner of our minds but if we don’t let it go it then, much like an aggressive cancer, it quickly overtakes much of the person’s total being. That is why there are numerous places in the bible where God tells us to fill ourselves with love, even for our enemies. He wants us to never allow hate even start within us. If we allow hate into our minds we are giving Satan a grip into our very souls. I know, given some circumstance such as the Amish incident I started the post out with, it is very difficult to not hate someone or something. But we, especially us Christians, must be very aware of the deadly effects of hate and fight it back when it crops up in our minds. We can disagree with someone but still love them. Hate simply does not have any place in a Christian’s life.

<<<Originally Posted on  by at RedLetterLiving.net>>>

2014-12-24_07-18-20On this particular morning, I was faced with a photo of a food stamp with a note to “those on welfare” who “don’t work” and “milk the system.” The post was calling for “accountability.” I just shook my head in disappointment.

While most political comments don’t hit me very hard (we all have a right to our opinion), I have a difficult time with those that group any set of people into a section and blame and berate them…

You may not agree with me and that’s okay; we don’t have to. But I will still show you respect, not only because that’s how I was raised but because it feels right on a deep and human level.

I am writing this because I want to say that I was one of those “welfare” people so many people callously group into the “lazy” section of the room. While I’m now often told by these same people that I am one of the hardest working people they know, the reality is that there is no way I would be where I am today without the help I received in my past. Some tell me, “Yeah, but you are an exception.”

No, I am not.

I’m just one of the many people born under difficult circumstances who wanted to do better and needed a little help getting onto my feet. Now that I am on them, I do my best not to forget what it felt like when I was not. If anything, my past has benefited me in that it has served as a strong warning not to play the “we vs. them” game as one day you might be the “them.”

SOURCE: How It Feels to Be a Kid on Welfare.

First of all Merry Christmas Eve to everyone. I want to highly recommend that you take the time today to  click on the source of this article to read it in its entirety especially if you are one of those who have opinions about “those on welfare”. I think it will tug at your heart and you might finally come to understand just what the welfare system is supposed to accomplish.  As Brenda Della Casa says some people do game all systems no matter where they are on the economic scale but for everyone who does there are hundreds who don’t.

Christmas Eve Post

December 24, 2014

Slice 1

 

 

Being Still ….

December 8, 2014

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Human mind works in a funny way, its basic nature is that of rebellion and the more you try to tame it, the more it gets out of control. Try keeping it fixed at a particular spot for a few minutes and you will understand the point am trying to make here at an experiential level. There are so many times wherein i have just wanted to be quiet, silent in all 3: physical, vocal and mental levels. By being quiet, I don’t mean draining my mind of all thoughts, for that stage is way high up in one’s spiritual journey. I simply mean being equanimous towards the thoughts/emotions that cross my mind, simply being a observer and not reacting. However, this seemingly simple thing of being still is so tough to get in action….

In The About Me Tab:

 I hope that i can raise myself to such a level of purity and integrity so as to have the courage to stand up for my principles as and when required. Most of my thoughts/principles/ideas are still getting shaped and my writing would demonstrate just that. Also, as of now, I feel stifled by even the mere thought of binding myself down with one ideology and thus, i keep jumping from one to another, keeping points i connect to and ignoring the rest.

SOURCE: Being Still – Learning’s from a tree | Just A Crazy Dreamer.

I think I have found a new kindred spirit on the Internet. His name is NAKUL ARORA and he is a young man in India trying to live out his calling. I browsed through several of his posts today and he has much the same questions about life as I do. He is now on my Feedly list for a daily read. I love the picture above from his blog header. I imagine that he is the one in the center of the picture. In his youth he quit the life path that was expected of him in order to follow his dreams. I wish I had done the same. One of the first things to draw my attention to the picture is the diversity of teeth among this young group. It is refreshing to see that physical beauty, some might say sameness,  does not drive all the countries in the world.

He claims to be “a die-hard patriot and appalled by the state of things in my country, I wanted to do something…”

I will be following this young man and probably re-blogging some of his words. The words above about simply being quiet spurred all kinds of thoughts in me. It is similar to the concept of “centering down” common among my Quaker friends.  My mind, I’m sure like his is in constant thought about things of the world. Just being quiet and observing instead of judging is a hard thing for me to accomplish.  I do it on occasion but frequently just can’t manage to do that. With this young man’s words and thoughts I hope to accomplish this more often.  I hope he spurs me into thinking about things in a different way.  We all need to be shaken from our complacency once in a while.