Lost Time

I knew that I was neglecting my writing, but I lost track of how long I’d been doing it.  I can’t believe it’s been more than a year since my last post here.  So much for my promise of updates once a month.  I apologize for the neglect.  If you are personally acquainted with me, you know that part of the reason is my preoccupation with toddlers.  I am currently keeping two of my great grandchildren while their mother works.  They are about to have birthdays and will be 2 and 3. They have required a lot of attention, but there was free time, I simply didn’t use it here.

I also had two online classes last fall, so that took up more time.  I really didn’t have much to spare then, but I could have done the once a month thing.  I simply didn’t.  Since December, I’ve just been…..well, not exactly vegetating, I haven’t slid into the abyss of daytime TV.  But, over the past couple of months, I did relapse into a former addiction.  I downloaded a farming game onto my tablet.  Progress required access to Facebook & the installation of a companion version on my computer.  The addiction hooked itself into old connections and soon it was sucking up all my spare time plus eating into time when I should have been doing other things.  

I’d been there before, so I knew the only answer was a “cold turkey” cutoff and filling all spare time with more productive activities.  Since I’m not currently taking classes, it seemed getting back to my independent studies and writing was my methadone.  I was shocked to discover how much time had passed while I just drifted along the flow.  This blog had 16 updates waiting.  I’ve cleaned up all that and this post is my apology for the neglect.  

I’ve also started reading a book that I bought several years ago as a reference tool: Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch. 9780670021260_p0_v2_s460x700 At the time, all I did was scan through the index and start the introduction.  Yesterday, I finished the intro and started the first chapter.  I will make a better effort this time to share my readings.  MacCulloch says that Christianity must trace its roots beyond the birth of Jesus to the ancient Jewish and Greek culture that fed into His life here on earth.  

I am here.  I am 72 years old and I am still searching for a better understanding of my religion and my faith.  Don’t misunderstand me, I do not doubt.  I simply feel a need to integrate the spiritual with the physical and understand the history behind it all.

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Learning How Little I Know

study_5932cWhen I decided to register for the Religious Studies program at WKU, I was looking for classes on other religions.  In my somewhat arrogant opinion, I knew all I needed to about Christianity.  I did register for a class called Christianity last semester, thinking it would be an easy A.  When the main subject matter turned out to be about the writings of the early church and the format mostly group discussion, I dropped it.  The readings were difficult and time consuming.  I have a strong dislike for group projects.  I decided I wasn’t going to get enough new or important information from it to be worth the time it was taking.  I am 70 years old.  I’ve attended church all my life.  As a child, our family didn’t just offer thanks at the dinner table.  We had a daily devotional time before we ate every evening.  When my children were growing up, I taught Sunday School and Bible School.  I haven’t memorized the Book.  I cannot quote chapter and verse for random scriptures, but I know what Christianity is all about.  Do you see where this is going?  

Recently I decided that I wanted to make this blog about my spiritual journey.  Not exactly a theological thing.   Not a preachy thing or a missionary thing….more like a witness to the world kind of thing.  I feel I have something to say.  You can agree or disagree, I won’t get upset.  I don’t think it’s necessary for everyone else to see God the same way I do.  I do feel called to try and explain my own experience and where it has led me.  

As a part of the process, I had begun reading Bishop Spong’s, Sins of Scripture, but I got sidetracked.  I began to research the differences between the mainline denominations.  As a result, I have come to the humbling conclusion that I know very little about Christianity.  I know about my own denomination, the church where I grew up.  I know what I’ve come to believe over the years through various study groups and my own personal Bible study, but I know very little about other churches and what they preach.  I know a little bit of the history of the church.  Maybe more than the average person, but not all that I should.  

So, this summer, I am doing independent research and study.  I have purchased several books and I’ve been doing a lot of reading.  At the moment, I’m working on The Dovekeepers, a fictional story about Masada that I borrowed from the library.  I had heard about the refugees from Jerusalem who barricaded themselves into Herod’s stronghold and held off the Roman Army for three years.  Who chose, at the end, to die rather than surrender.  It’s usually thought of as a Jewish story.  The thing is, in 70 BC, Christianity was considered a minor Jewish sect.  So some of the people at Masada were probably Christians, they just weren’t answering to that name yet.   In any case, those early Christians definitely lived through the destruction of Jerusalem and fled as refugees into the surrounding deserts.  To understand ourselves, we need to understand the founding fathers.  Understanding them, requires learning about their history. Read more »

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Searching for the Past

daddyduringWWII-1It’s the anniversary of D-Day and everyone seems to be putting it front and center.  I don’t remember them doing this last year or the year before….I’m not sure I remember it ever being such a high priority.  Maybe it started because of old men with brittle bones indulging is past memories like the one who convinced officials to let him do a re-creation of the jump he made 70 years ago.   Maybe it’s because someone realized those heroes are almost all gone.  I’m not saying it isn’t that important or that we shouldn’t honor those who fought there, just that people seem more involved this year than previously.  Maybe it’s a nostalgia thing.  WWII was definitively “good against evil,” a situation that isn’t always as clear in today’s wars.

All the hullabaloo, plus Father’s Day coming up, got me to thinking about Daddy.  He would have been 101 on the 16th of this month.  He passed away in November of 1979 from lung cancer.  There are times when I miss him still.  Today is one of those times.  I want to talk to him about his service.  He never spoke about that time and I never asked him about it.  Now, I wonder what it was like for him.  Since he never talked about it, I can’t be sure where he was stationed or how involved he was in the fighting.   I do remember one thing he said about the war, “Don’t move when you can be still, don’t stand if you can sit, sleep and eat whenever you get the chance.  You never know how long it will be before you have the opportunity again.” Read more »

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Changing times

Sometimes I forget how much things have changed during my lifetime.  Wednesday, while I was visiting my granddaughter and her family in Richmond, we passed a small two-seater sports car.  I’ve wanted one for most of my life.  It just wasn’t practical when my own children were growing up and I couldn’t really afford one later.  I voiced our standing joke, “He stole my car.”  My daughter and granddaughter said I have too many great grandchildren to buy one now.  As we discussed it, I realized my longing has been compromised.   

My thirty year love affair with convertibles has been contaminated by maturity.  The only way I would own one now would be if it had a roll bar.  I’m not sure when the possibility of a rollover began to outweigh the wind in my hair.  It must have been a gradual thing because I don’t even remember when it started.  Perhaps its a side effect of too many movie crashes or maybe it is part of my recently acquired inability to feel secure in a moving vehicle without a seat belt.  Now, I find myself reaching for one when I sit down in a theater.

I know where that one comes from.  In 1996, I was driving to work one rainy morning.  As I approached the section of road where the parkway becomes a surface street the car hydroplaned.  Luckily there was still a concrete divider between the lanes, at that point, that kept me from sliding into oncoming traffic.  However, that same barrier created a feeling of panic when the left front wheel began to climb it.  I was desperately trying to steer the car back toward the edge of the road so, as soon as the wheel gained traction on the vertical surface, it turned and sent me back across two lanes to jump the guardrail and wind up on the grassy bank beside the highway.  The vehicle landed right side up, but for an eternal moment, I had thought it was going to roll.   It was months before I could drive or even ride in the left lane without flinching. Read more »

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Sins of Scripture

imagesBishop Spong is giving me much food for thought.  I really don’t believe that God wants us to simply accept everything we are told about Him at face value.  I feel “called” to dig deeper, to study, and also to use the brain He gave me to think about what I find and use the logic He also gave me to decide what is “True.”   I can accept the idea that the men who wrote the books of the Bible were God inspired.  Even the men who chose which books to include may have been God inspired.  However, they were still men, subject to error in spite of that inspiration.  They viewed the revelations they were given through the lens of their own experience.  If you are exposed to an idea or vision outside your experience and knowledge, you must relate it to something familiar in order to understand it.

An ordinary man in 900 BCE could not conceive of a mechanical device that flew.  He would translate such a thing as a giant bird, a dragon, or perhaps a wheel.  The instruction to “have dominion over the earth” was seen as having power over all, not a responsibility to take care of it.  Woman as a “helpmate” became servant instead of partner.  But we, as modern people, with a wider, more scientific, understanding have a responsibility to look at the scriptures and re-vision them in the light of present day knowledge.

The result may drastically alter our religious viewpoint, but it doesn’t have to cancel it out.  Instead it can help us to see through the glass more clearly.  We’ll still be a long way from understanding the Almighty or His/Her plan, but we can come much closer than “scholars” of the ancient world because we begin with a better understanding of the world God made.

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