Sunday, 28 June 2015

One Judge. I Am Not Him.

God has a sense of humour. Some things you don't see coming. He does. When they appear, well, between the both of us, we got this. Nothing is of a surprise to Him. His Word says, "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. (Ecclesiates 1:9) (I like the poetry of the KJV.) As a matter of fact, another verse says, "That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past. (Ecc. 3:15)

I am Christian. I believe in Jesus, and daily seek to maintain a close relationship with Him. I believe the Bible is the word of God. To get to it, in the last week, much happened regarding gay rights in the USA. (Same-sex marriage has been legal in Canada since July 2005.)  As a Christian, when I utter my thoughts on this sensitive topic, I fully expect to be derided and ridiculed and accused of being homophobic and being a Bible Thumper and and and... It's the way it is. True, there are Christians who go about expressing condemnation of members of the LGBT community. They spew vitriol squarely directed at them at every opportunity. So, Christians who are more mild in airing their views are lumped in with that batch.

But, no matter how mild the approach, the Christian with a point of view borne out of their belief is often not... (what's the word? Allowed?) ..."allowed" to express his/her dissenting view. I don't get it. I'm Christian, and I believe homosexuality is a sin. Should I acquiesce and go with someone else's view just because I don't wish to offend them? That is ridiculous. I have relatives who are gay. By the time I found out, well, I had already loved them to pieces. No judgment. I believe we will someday all answer to one God for the time we spent here. Meantime, my duty is to love and shine, including when I join the conversation on controversial topics. I have made a choice to believe what I believe. Look around. The world is a mess. It takes more than wealth and popularity to attain that which is most precious in such a time as this - peace of mind.

Earlier, I referred to the Bible. If someone does not believe the Bible to be the Word of God, it is pointless to quote from it as an authority in support of the point being made. Enter grace, through faith - and time. We live. We believe. We live according to our belief. Philip Yancey - atheist turned Christian - wrote in his book, The Jesus I Never Knew: "God's terrible insistence on human freedom is so absolute that He granted us the power to live as though He did not exist, to spit in His face, to crucify Him. Although power can force obedience, only love can summon a response of love, which is the one thing God wants from us and the reason He created us."

So, people are free to do whatever with whomever. I don't bash friends who don't share  my faith, for example. Love them and leave them to Jesus and time. I believe He can and does make a wonderful difference in people's lives. People make the difficult decision to "come out of the closet". No judgment. And, it's not because the skeletons in my closet have skeletons in their closets. It is because I am not the JUDGE. I cannot be presumptuous to think I can judge and mete out sentences to whomever I think is not living according to God's word. Especially when I am a daily beneficiary of His amazing grace.

It seems, though, no matter how many times as a Christian you say and demonstrate love and kindness even as you disagree with "the masses", you will be ridiculed, vilified, etc. Not everyone will share my views. I get that. Still, one word in dissent, and many immediately go for the jugular. Yet, they are the same ones exercising their right to speak their views freely. I don't get that.

You know what's not funny? We can be angered and get freaked out by the news that a three year-old girl has been raped by a 30 year-old man. Why? Because something inside our make up says it is wrong. There is still wrong and right in the world. It's not always black and white, but it exists. It is not, as much as we would like to think, a case of anything goes. Consensus doesn't mean right. Humans are fickle beings. What is right today is not necessarily right tomorrow. But, God's word and standards do not change.

In today's " Look at me!" world, it is not surprising that some compromise on their beliefs for the sake of popularity; for adulation; for likes and favs and retweets. "Do you, boo!" But, as a person who seeks to abide in Christ, my choices do not often coincide with the world's. And that is to be expected. I don't think my final words on my deathbed will be, "Oh, I wish I had been more popular on Social Media." Nope. The Christian journey is not an easy one and every day is a struggle, but I try to keep the proper perspective and focus on what really matters. The Holy Spirit does not leave me alone.

Speaking of expectations, what also seems to be expected is that folks like myself should go sit in a corner somewhere because we have a dissenting view - no matter how much in love we express it. Yeah. About that. We have been commissioned to share the good news of Jesus Christ. And, we will and do have a belief out of which we speak. I think it was the ancient Greek philosopher, Epictetus, who said, "All religions must be tolerated...for every man must get to heaven in his own way." *raises hand* Umm, about that "in his own way" part? No. The Word I live by quotes Jesus as saying He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Him. Hmm. Not only do we want to live however we want, we also want the assurance that it's okay. And, some of our spiritual leaders, sadly, have given in to this. For myriad reasons, I suppose - the desire not to offend; not to step on anyone's toes; not to lose popularity, etc. The unadulterated word of God can be hard-hitting. Nobody is perfect and has it all together in this walk. Enter, grace. 

Sigh. The criticisms for expressing particular - and particularly dissenting - positions will come.

We got this.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

A Book of Any Length...

Not too long ago, I came across someone on Twitter whose bio said he'd written scores of books. Given how challenging it is to realize even that first book most of us have inside, it left me wondering just how lengthy, and of what quality, those books were. How is it some people make writing look so easy? You know what they say, right? Every writer soon learns that a book that's easy to read is hard to write. (Or something like that.)

As I make way for hundreds of writers in my Twitter space, I've begun to pick up on a few things. One of them is this: A very short how-to book that has been published solely for an e-reader platform is still considered a book. Got an eBook of 12 pages? It's still a book. And it's been published. So, the author can (and does) claim to be a published author. Write a few scores of those kinds and you can in fact claim to have written scores of books! 

Here's the thing: In years past, I probably would not have claimed very short (adult) books as books per se. I'd have probably called works of that length short stories or viewpoints or something, then compile them for a far lengthier work for which I could more worthily claim the title of author. But that way of thinking is what would've been left over from a programmed perception, if you will.

Fast forward. I've been thinking of a few short pieces. Enter eBook ideas. The following is part of one of these yet unfinished pieces. Perhaps I could embark on a series of eBooks in which I share something along these lines - and what can't be read between the lines. I've always thought of developing (or publishing "as is") some of these blog posts. I shall ponder this in my heart. 

There have been times when I held on for too long after I should have let go, second guessing my gut and wondering whether my impatience had yet again overridden longsuffering. I don't let go until the ugly is undeniable and irrefutable. A big step up from cutting them off at the first sign of betrayal of trust. But, a long way down from what is sensible. Then, I let go. I take myself away. The words go first. I follow on their heels. A moment to embrace my new normal is necessary. Given the signs, the cleaning and cleansing had begun - bit by bit. After letting go, I breathe; I hold myself; I assure myself I need this time, this moment, to just be still. And I declutter, starting in my mind. I am strong. I find comfort in knowing I am not worse for the wear. I sowed good seeds. And, I was sincere.


Monday, 8 June 2015

Turning Point

A couple of years ago, Dove came out with an ad to encourage women and girls to accept themselves as beautiful.  The ad, dubbed Camera Shy, made me smile. It also made me think. Good on Dove, for I imagine that that's part of what they were after. It becomes rather revealing when we stop and think about whether as adults we are now camera shy, and what led us to that point.

If we are, there may be several reasons for it. The least of them might not be a matter of privacy. There may be a legitimate concern about how an innocent and candid photo may end up being used on the Internet. Apart from that, however, may be the more grueling issue of our perception of our natural beauty, whether it is...enough at any given time. And, if it isn't, when did we start thinking so? And, can we go back?

But, this post is not about that - per se.

Something came to mind other day. Remember that line in Mr. Monk and the Very, Very Old Man, when Stottlemeyer was asked why he hadn't done something or other? His response was stteo, "I'd hurt his feelings... That's my new full-time job - not hurting people's feelings."  It's one of those lines that stuck with me because it's indicative of that shift between worlds. There is a turning point between the childlike (and often entertaining) innocence that produces frank, unfiltered responses, and the caution we employ as we get more emotionally aware and considerate of people's feelings. It happens. We learn it from family, or the other social structures to which we become exposed as we grow. Yeah, it happens. And, little by little, we begin to apply filters and cushions and, in no time, we become very adept at not saying what we really mean.

I believe most adults do not enjoy that luxury I love to refer to in a favourite C.S. Lewis quote: "Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that's the whole art and joy of words."

It does sound oh-so-good on its own, doesn't it? The larger piece from which I grabbed it not only provides context, but answers, on point, the reason we often remain in our new-found comfort zone, having made the transition between worlds; the reason it's hard to go back.

“Lightly men talk of saying what they mean. Often when he was teaching me to write in Greek the Fox would say, “Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that’s the whole art and joy of words.” A glib saying. When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the centre of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about joy of words.” 
- C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces