Sunday, February 24, 2013

Jesus' Word

This week C and I have had a few doctrinal discussions related to scriptures.  He recently finished reading a book called "Misquoting Jesus" in which the author identifies and discusses specific areas of the New Testament gospels that scholars feel have definitely been changed, either deliberately or accidentally, by translators and transcribers throughout the two thousand odd years since the original Apostles wrote them.

C wanted to know how it affects my relationship with Jesus, knowing that the words in my scriptures may not be the exact ones that Jesus spoke.  So I told him that, besides the fact that anyone with some understanding of how the Bible came to be knows that it was written down and then copied and recopied multitudes of times before it ended up in our hands, my faith is not based in the text, but in the living Jesus Christ.  If we put our faith in the literal words on the page, we are worshipping language and semantics, yet if we put our faith in Christ, knowing that He lives and He is in control of the world, there is nothing to worry about.  If He needed us to have more information than the current version of the Bible contains, then He would give it to us.

In fact, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I believe that Jesus speaks to a prophet in these current times, and has given us further scripture, so that we are not left wondering what is true and what is error.  He gave us the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price to both confirm truths in the Bible, and give clarification of important doctrines.  These books are translations too, but have less human error than the Bible may have, so I can grow closer to my Heavenly Father and to Jesus Christ by reading from these texts, as well as from the Bible.  I also have another tool, and that is the Holy Spirit, which can tell me if something I read is true or not.

It doesn't worry me that Mark may have originally described Jesus as "angry" and that word may have been removed by monks who didn't think it appropriate.  I can find out the personality of Jesus myself by reading all the accounts of Him, by praying, by listening to modern-day talks by prophets who have interacted personally with Him, and by doing the things He commanded us to do.  If he was angry, it won't be with me, if I can help it!

So, when I saw a Durham church called "Jesus Word," it seemed appropriate for today.  Sorry the photo is a little blurry...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Little House

For Book Club this month, I read Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  It was fun to revisit a childhood favorite.  And it's still a favorite!  I got sucked right back in to the world of 1870s Wisconsin frontier territory, and re-read the whole book in one evening.

There are so many things I love about the Little House series of books!  This book in particular, the first in the series of books that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote as an adult reminiscing on her life, is wonderful for it's coziness and simple charm.  Laura describes her life as a 5 year old child, which is full of some things we might not associate with a child.  She devotes a whole chapter to her father's gun, describing how the bullets are made and the gun barrel cleaned.  She speaks frequently of bears and panthers, but also corn cob dolls and maple sugar treats.  There is no huge story arc, a la Harry Potter.  No sensationalism or controversy here.  Just a joy in retelling the simple day-to-day life of Laura's family.

Part of the fun, too, are the pencil illustrations by Garth Williams, as above.  My favorite one I couldn't find online to copy, but it also has a bear in it.  Laura's father has gone out to check his traps in the winter (he trapped animals for their fur) and comes across a bear that has just killed a pig.  He shoots the bear and "brings home the bacon."  Anyway, the illustrations shows him approaching the bear, who is standing up on his hind legs and holding the pig in his arms, like a doll.  I don't know why I love it, I just do.  It makes me laugh.

It must sound awful for me, in this day and age, to be laughing about a man shooting a bear that has killed a pig, but for the Ingalls family, it was their way of life.  They had to survive the long cold winter days and nights by fighting with the wildness of the world around them sometimes.  I can only marvel at what they went through in that little Wisconsin cabin!  All I need to survive the winter is an electric blanket, and a good book.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Church of the Week

I'm reviving my old habit of posting pictures of churches on Sundays.  I don't live in Harlem anymore, but Durham seems to have just as many interesting houses of worship.  Today's choice is, I think, currently closed, but it is located on the corner of Sowell and Glenn and used to be the home of the Miracle Temple Holiness Church.  Before that it was the Ebenezer Baptist Church.  It's kind of tucked into a neighborhood at the top of a little hill, near the footbridge that crosses the Durham Freeway.

Anyway, it made me think about the name Ebenezer, which comes from the Bible.  There are actually a lot of churches in the South named Ebenezer, and it makes sense because the name "Eben-ezer" means "stone of strength."  When King Samuel, in the Old Testament, was in the middle of battles with his enemies, he "raised a stone" or maybe built some kind of altar with which to give thanks and perform worship to God.  He called it Eben-ezer, and that is what these churches are named after.  Churches are like rocks in the community, centers of immovable strength in some ways.  So, I think Ebenezer makes a great name.  And, this church is made of stone!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

An Etiquette Lesson

This week I had the novel experience of having to take a new employee to task about dressing inappropriately.  My workplace has a very casual dress code, so not very many things cross the line, but there's a first time for everything.  It was another reminder of how little we keep private these days, what with facebook and Twitter and all other types of social media and celebrity culture.

I feel like I gave that young woman some good advice about developing professionalism no matter what her job is, and I'd like to give some more advice, or at lease suggestions, to young people out there, about privacy, especially online.

First of all, young people, now that Valentine's Day is over and you've come down from your sugar and endorphin highs, please tell me that you are a little bit embarrassed that you posted online a photo of you and your true love passionately kissing, with some kind of message full of gushy extended words: "I looooooove my smoooochy boo!" Because you should be embarrassed.  I don't care if 6 people clicked the Like button.  All 578 of your other mutual facebook friends felt a little bit nauseous at the sight of it and laughed nervously and scrolled past it very quickly.  You and Smoochy Boo should definitely keep sending those messages to each other, but you should do it privately.  I know you are happy and proud of each other, but love notes are immensely more powerful, more sincere, and more meaningful when they are directed to your lover's eyes only, and not the world's.  Also, despite what you see on TV and in the movies, nobody likes to watch other people kissing, and if they do then they are gross.

Second, about those Valentine's gifts he gave you...  Everyone who is in a happy relationship got some kind of gift on Valentine's Day, not just you!  Yes, yours was the most special, but only to you!   I'm not trying to be mean, but when I see six photos posted on facebook in succession, beginning with the wrapped gift and ending with the unwrapped gift, with every stage in between tagged with #lovemyhubby, #besthusbandever, #hugsandkissesforever, etc., then I wonder if you are in a reality show that needs publicity, or else you have a super eager personal assistant, or maybe just plain too much time on your hands.  Or, heaven forbid, bragging.  It's not that I'm against posting photos of sweet gifts on facebook, my suggestion is to try and have a little more tact, a little more self control, a little less "look at how rich and wonderful my husband is because he got me this stuff!"  Okay, so I'm a little guilty here because I did post a picture of the heart-shaped cookie cutter that my husband made for me out of a tin can, and the cookie I then made for him using said cookie cutter, but my post was more out of a sense of "I can't believe he just made a cookie cutter out of a tin can!" than "look at me unwrap this name-brand thing he bought at the super expensive store for me!"  It has always been rude to proclaim one's wealth. It alienates you from your friends in some cases, or brings you the wrong kind of friends.  So, when you feel like bragging, think twice.  Tone it down.  Enjoy your blessings for sure, but remember that not everyone has what you have, or cares that you have it. Yes, they want to see cute pictures of your kids.  Yes, they want to know what fun places you are visiting.  But mostly your friends and family just want to know that you are happy, and that is all. 

My third and final bit of advice for this post is to remind you, young person, that what you post online has the potential to exist forever.  Just because you delete it doesn't mean it is gone.  So before uploading pictures of your naked pregnant belly, or writing a status-update about how you breast-fed your kid until they were 5, or how much you are going to love and adore your current boyfriend who can be seen kissing on you in the majority of your photos, think about how embarrassed your kid is going to feel when their friends see that, or how you are going to feel when you break up with that boyfriend and start dating someone else.  Just think about what you write and what you share with the world.  Sharing an abundance of personal information and feelings with close friends and family is wonderful, but to do so in a public forum is so often inappropriate.

Anyway, as with all advice, you are free to take it or leave it.  You may completely disagree with me, or you may have learned your own lesson from experience with the above.  Perhaps I have broken an etiquette rule by presuming I have something to teach.  Nevertheless, I just hope that with all the amazing ways we have to communicate with each other these days, we remember that not everything is meant to be communicated with everyone.