Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Seeking Wisdom with Prayer and Plato

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
- James 1:5 (KJV)

If I had to choose a moment in my life when my thinking began to change and I realized that there was a possibility that my early religious instruction (such that it was) may have been less than perfectly accurate, it was when I first read Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. This text, which was written more than 300 years b.c., looks at reality, perceived reality, and distorted reality. If you have not done so already (or if it’s been years since you last read it), please read this translation and leave comments below – let’s have a discussion.

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[Socrates] And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: --Behold! human beings living in a underground cave, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the cave; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.

[Glaucon] I see.

[Socrates] And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.

[Glaucon] You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.

[Socrates] Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?

[Glaucon] True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?

[Socrates] And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows?

[Glaucon] Yes, he said.

[Socrates] And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them?

[Glaucon] Very true.

[Socrates] And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow?
[Glaucon] No question, he replied.

[Socrates] To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.

[Glaucon] That is certain.

[Socrates] And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive someone saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision, -what will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them, -will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?

[Glaucon] Far truer.

[Socrates] And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take and take in the objects of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearer than the things which are now being shown to him?

[Glaucon] True, he now.

[Socrates] And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he’s forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities.

[Glaucon] Not all in a moment, he said.

[Socrates] He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day?

[Glaucon] Certainly.

[Socrates] Last of he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.

[Glaucon] Certainly.

[Socrates] He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the season and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have been accustomed to behold?

[Glaucon] Clearly, he said, he would first see the sun and then reason about him.

[Socrates] And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the cave and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?

[Glaucon] Certainly, he would.

[Socrates] And if they were in the habit of conferring honors among themselves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to remark which of them went before, and which followed after, and which were together; and who were therefore best able to draw conclusions as to the future, do you think that he would care for such honors and glories, or envy the possessors of them? Would he not say with Homer,

Better to be the poor servant of a poor master,
and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after their manner?

[Glaucon] Yes, he said, I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner.

[Socrates] Imagine once more, I said, such an one coming suddenly out of the sun to be replaced in his old situation; would he not be certain to have his eyes full of darkness?

[Glaucon] To be sure, he said.

[Socrates] And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the cave, while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady (and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable) would he not be ridiculous? Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.

[Glaucon] No question, he said.

[Socrates] This entire allegory, I said, you may now append, dear Glaucon, to the previous argument; the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poor belief, which, at your desire, I have expressed whether rightly or wrongly God knows. But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally, either in public or private life must have his eye fixed.

[Glaucon] I agree, he said, as far as I am able to understand you.

[Socrates] Moreover, I said, you must not wonder that those who attain to this beatific vision are unwilling to descend to human affairs; for their souls are ever hastening into the upper world where they desire to dwell; which desire of theirs is very natural, if our allegory may be trusted.

[Glaucon] Yes, very natural.

[Socrates] And is there anything surprising in one who passes from divine contemplations to the evil state of man, misbehaving himself in a ridiculous manner; if, while his eyes are blinking and before he has become accustomed to the surrounding darkness, he is compelled to fight in courts of law, or in other places, about the images or the shadows of images of justice, and is endeavoring to meet the conceptions of those who have never yet seen absolute justice?

[Glaucon] Anything but surprising, he replied.

[Socrates] Anyone who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind's eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees any one whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh; he will first ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter light, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darkness to the day is dazzled by excess of light. And he will count the one happy in his condition and state of being, and he will pity the other; or, if he have a mind to laugh at the soul which comes from below into the light, there will be more reason in this than in the laugh which greets him who returns from above out of the light into the cave.

[Glaucon] That, he said, is a very just distinction.

[Socrates] But then, if I am right, certain professors of education must be wrong when they say that they can put a knowledge into the soul which was not there before, like sight into blind eyes.

[Glaucon] They undoubtedly say this, he replied.

[Socrates] Whereas, our argument shows that the power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already; and that just as the eye was unable to turn from darkness to light without the whole body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of being, and learn by degrees to endure the sight of being, and of the brightest and best of being, or in other words, of the good.

[Glaucon] Very true.

[Socrates] And must there not be some art which will effect conversion in the easiest and quickest manner; not implanting the faculty of sight, for that exists already, but has been turned in the wrong direction, and is looking away from the truth?

[Glaucon] Yes, he said, such an art may be presumed.

[Socrates] And whereas the other so-called virtues of the soul seem to be akin to bodily qualities, for even when they are not originally innate they can be implanted later by habit and exercise, the of wisdom more than anything else contains a divine element which always remains, and by this conversion is rendered useful and profitable; or, on the other hand, hurtful and useless. Did you never observe the narrow intelligence flashing from the keen eye of a clever rogue --how eager he is, how clearly his paltry soul sees the way to his end; he is the reverse of blind, but his keen eyesight is forced into the service of evil, and he is mischievous in proportion to his cleverness.

[Glaucon] Very true, he said.

[Socrates] But what if there had been a circumcision of such natures in the days of their youth; and they had been severed from those sensual pleasures, such as eating and drinking, which, like leaden weights, were attached to them at their birth, and which drag them down and turn the vision of their souls upon the things that are below --if, I say, they had been released from these impediments and turned in the opposite direction, the very same faculty in them would have seen the truth as keenly as they see what their eyes are turned to now.

[Glaucon] Very likely.

[Socrates] Yes, I said; and there is another thing which is likely. or rather a necessary inference from what has preceded, that neither the uneducated and uninformed of the truth, nor yet those who never make an end of their education, will be able ministers of State; not the former, because they have no single aim of duty which is the rule of all their actions, private as well as public; nor the latter, because they will not act at all except upon compulsion, fancying that they are already dwelling apart in the islands of the blest.

[Glaucon] Very true, he replied.

[Socrates] Then, I said, the business of us who are the founders of the State will be to compel the best minds to attain that knowledge which we have already shown to be the greatest of all-they must continue to ascend until they arrive at the good; but when they have ascended and seen enough we must not allow them to do as they do now.

[Glaucon] What do you mean?

[Socrates] I mean that they remain in the upper world: but this must not be allowed; they must be made to descend again among the prisoners in the cave, and partake of their labors and honors, whether they are worth having or not.

[Glaucon] But is not this unjust? he said; ought we to give them a worse life, when they might have a better?

[Socrates] You have again forgotten, my friend, I said, the intention of the legislator, who did not aim at making any one class in the State happy above the rest; the happiness was to be in the whole State, and he held the citizens together by persuasion and necessity, making them benefactors of the State, and therefore benefactors of one another; to this end he created them, not to please themselves, but to be his instruments in binding up the State.

[Glaucon] True, he said, I had forgotten.

[Socrates] Observe, Glaucon, that there will be no injustice in compelling our philosophers to have a care and providence of others; we shall explain to them that in other States, men of their class are not obliged to share in the toils of politics: and this is reasonable, for they grow up at their own sweet will, and the government would rather not have them. Being self-taught, they cannot be expected to show any gratitude for a culture which they have never received. But we have brought you into the world to be rulers of the hive, kings of yourselves and of the other citizens, and have educated you far better and more perfectly than they have been educated, and you are better able to share in the double duty. Wherefore each of you, when his turn comes, must go down to the general underground abode, and get the habit of seeing in the dark. When you have acquired the habit, you will see ten thousand times better than the inhabitants of the cave, and you will know what the several images are, and what they represent, because you have seen the beautiful and just and good in their truth. And thus our State which is also yours will be a reality, and not a dream only, and will be administered in a spirit unlike that of other States, in which men fight with one another about shadows only and are distracted in the struggle for power, which in their eyes is a great good. Whereas the truth is that the State in which the rulers are most reluctant to govern is always the best and most quietly governed, and the State in which they are most eager, the worst.

[Glaucon] Quite true, he replied.

[Socrates] And will our pupils, when they hear this, refuse to take their turn at the toils of State, when they are allowed to spend the greater part of their time with one another in the heavenly light?

[Glaucon] Impossible, he answered; for they are just men, and the commands which we impose upon them are just; there can be no doubt that every one of them will take office as a stern necessity, and not after the fashion of our present rulers of State.

[Socrates] Yes, my friend, I said; and there lies the point. You must contrive for your future rulers another and a better life than that of a ruler, and then you may have a well-ordered State; for only in the State which offers this, will they rule who are truly rich, not in silver and gold, but in virtue and wisdom, which are the true blessings of life. Whereas if they go to the administration of public affairs, poor and hungering after the' own private advantage, thinking that hence they are to snatch the chief good, order there can never be; for they will be fighting about office, and the civil and domestic broils which thus arise will be the ruin of the rulers themselves and of the whole State.

[Glaucon] Most true, he replied.

[Socrates] And the only life which looks down upon the life of political ambition is that of true philosophy. Do you know of any other?

[Glaucon] Indeed, I do not, he said.

[Socrates] And those who govern ought not to be lovers of the task? For, if they are, there will be rival lovers, and they will fight.

[Glaucon] No question.

[Socrates] Who then are those whom we shall compel to be guardians? Surely they will be the men who are wisest about affairs of State, and by whom the State is best administered, and who at the same time have other honors and another and a better life than that of politics?

[Glaucon] They are the men, and I will choose them, he replied.

[Socrates] And now shall we consider in what way such guardians will be produced, and how they are to be brought from darkness to light, -- as some are said to have ascended from the world below to the gods?

[Glaucon] By all means, he replied.

[Socrates] The process, I said, is not the turning over of an oyster-shell, but the turning round of a soul passing from a day which is little better than night to the true day of being, that is, the ascent from below, which we affirm to be true philosophy?

[Glaucon] Quite so

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Opposite of Love ...

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” – Elie Wiesel

On Wednesday, I published some the words of kindness and encouragement that readers have shown over the past ten months. Below, please read the responses from the folks who do not appreciate my blog …

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its not a lie & if you were in a family that had problems with self righteousness & puffed up in their own conceit didnt you think maybe there day would come? you act as though they stone you to death!! my grandmother left the church as did I, we both went back to church & my grandmother with stood their prosecution..yes I agree within ones own family generally speaking you do get persecuted much more severely! such was the case with my grandmother, but she had unwavering faith in god till the day she died, gods people are a persecuted people. without trials in life how on earth do you make it to heaven? I as well live in a different state, kentucky to be exact & I now wish I hadnt ever left.I was miss judged, treated bad..but then again out of the church you dont have things much easier..Lifes tough no matter where you are in this world & in some instances the things I see many people endure is humbling to say the least & makes my own trials of ones looking down on me pale in on Shunning

Susanne, I don't know where you are getting all your knowledge, because you aren't old enough to know any this first hand! and your parrents are a good source of info because they are not all that bright, I know that! on Signs of the True Believer

Where did you get this info. It seems like it is less than accurate. Kinda like all your stories some truth some false some lies. on The Calling of the Prophets

You were not even born, how can you be so wise? on Walter's Dream

You shouldn't speak for what other people believe. Even though You were raised in the same church doesn't mean you know what I believe. We were not raised "the same". You like to make blanket statements about people you haven't talked to in 20 years. This is my last post, the only reason I ever posted was to find out who Darren was, now I know. I do wish Darren would have been more clear about who he was, If he is interested in Oregon city then get should go there. He won't learn much about them here. Oh I am sorry I forgot If it is online it must be true. on Guest Blogger: Darren Russell

If you think you are causing confusion and doubt in the church just remember,your not but.....who is the author of confusion? your not alone in writing this,for your sake please be careful,for your words you will be judged. on What Did He Die For?

Maybe when your done with the FOC you can go after the Amish on What Did He Die For?

Oh is that like being a born again virgin? Doesn't work that way on On The Mat

Better Get facts straight not stories but facts. on The Rejected Preacher


Off topic??? that is why you cencored the question??? I just know your type very well. what type you ask? The type of person who blame the foc church members for there short comings. You never fit in when you were a member because of your very loose morals. When people like you leave you claim its for religon but in all reality its because your guilt drove you out. you now try to justify your lifestyle by lashing out at the church. Many examples are out there that prove my point one example you would be quite familiar with is.... I will use some discretion with names, c s left because of the state of the church like many others and shortly after leaving cs cheated on his wife LS formerly LL and then left her after taking her out of the foc church. If I'm not mistaken I belive you are family with CS.... if you disagree with me that's fine but I knew you and people you messed around with in the church and people that read this blog that are from the foc church need very much to on Darren Russell: Why I Choose Not To Use Physicians

Get ready for the attack! Suzanne and Maggie attack like wild dogs when they are challenged. They like to dish it out but they don't take it very well. Shumakers always think they are the smartest person in the room. Take it all in stride, suzanne is hoping to gain fame and fortune by writing a book about her former friends. She will probably delete this comment because its "off topic" on Jerry Patton: Medicine & Faith

Suzi, if you read the bible, women are not to be teachers. Maggie you wear your religion as a publican. Leave these people alone. No one is disecting your life, so stop doing theres. They know in their heart they are right. Let them live their life and meet their maker on their own. It also says in bible they will hate you without a cause. Sounds like all of you... on Jerry Patton: Medicine & Faith

Well I might not spell as good as most but I can read. Wich is more than I can say for you (anon 905 pm). if you dont think that people like suzzane and maggie are taking constant jabs at the foc than you havn't read this whole blog! calling people outside the foc "True Followers" is a direct shot at the foc. And what do you think suzi's point is calling the foc a "sing along" or calling it "playing church". come on you people are all full of bitterness and hate and try to cover it up by puting the chapter and verse of a book of the bible in your comments to try to look smart or something. to me you look like a bunch of self righteous bitter people who love to blame everyone else for the lives you led that pushed you out of the church. on Jerry Patton: Medicine & Faith

Wow!!! You win. You posted the dumbest thing yet. good job moron. on We Are Going to Hell

Good job Zuzi on another massive generalization of a church that you, obviously know alot less about than you realize. I know all you shumakers think you know everthing but you have missef again. Susanne, have you thought that your generalized views on the foc church and there beliefs about the church are possibly off base and that you and the other ex-followers believe these things because thats what was told to them by there own family. You have said many times that there was no preacher when you were there so obviously you were being told all this from your parents. Mabey the reason you and all you ex-follower contacts acctually left is because of what was being taught to them in there house, not what was being taught in other peoples houses. Like I said befor, I know you think you know everything about us because you "poll" other ex members, but your jaded view on us is just that, jaded. How can you what other people believe in thete hearts or ate being told at home. I know that on We Are Going to Hell

Ex-followers are great revisionist's. on C.C. Smith: Divorce

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Thanks for the Love!

I sincerely appreciate ALL of the people who read and comment on this blog – particularly the guest bloggers who add more depth and perspective than I could ever hope to do alone. This week, I am away at a writing retreat on the beautiful Star Island off the coast of New Hampshire. In my absence, I want to honor and say thanks to the readers of this blog by reprinting some of my favorite comments.

Your positive comments have given me encouragement to keep going – so a sincere thank you to each and every one of you who has sent me emails off-line, made comments in person, and to the people who write kind and positive comments on this blog.

Of course, the less-loving commenters are also a huge motivation to me. They keep me in line and help to ensure that what I write is accurate. On Sunday I will post some of the negative, accusatory comments, but for today please enjoy a nice, calm stroll down memory lane ….

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I want more!!! on Why I Married a Stranger

I think your story is so fascinating, and I love how you write about it. on Kissers & Worldly People

brings back memories. on Kissers & Worldly People

These are amazing!! Thanks for sharing your story with us. on I am a Kisser

Another 'wow'! I am really enjoying the unfolding of your story, Suzi. on I am a Kisser


Suzanne - Let me know when the book comes out. Really enjoy your story, especially as I am one of the "outsiders", an OC kid from the start and even today (50 years later). Very interesting reading about a "Follower" from one who was within. Keep up the good work (and thank God you went on to go to college and follow your dream). on I'll Drink the Cool-Aid!

Wow, Suzi. I am so intrigued by your story and would love to hear more. on Dogs & Swine

I graduated from OC High the same year you were born and there were a number of Followers in school then although they didn't mingle at all. I am finding your blog very informative and it is answering many questions I've had about the church. Maybe you can answer this in a future post but I am curious what the church services are like if there is no minister and no new religious teaching going on. on Why People Stay

I think those of us from Oregon City find this information brings us comfort. We all went to school with FOS members and you either seemed scary to us or we could not understand how to be your friend. As a mom I do not believe that anyone would for no reason allow their child to die. You are changing the views of many Suzi and maybe that is your calling from God.

I look forward to reading each and every one of your post. As a person that grew up in Oregon City and was "school" friends with several from the FOC church I have always had many curiosities on "why" people do what they do or "why" they believe what they believe. I remember you from school as you are only a year younger than me. Back then I really don't recall stories of children dying, but I very much remember the story of TC dying at if I recall correctly the ripe age of maybe 28 or so. Young none the less with a beautiful wife and two young boys whom literally had to watch their father die over many agonizing months from something that could have easily been helped. I got angry then. Why would he let himself wither away and die like that? How could he let his children see him suffer and die under their very own eyes, how does anyone justify that? Now with all the news over the past few years of children dying and now having children of my own I find it incredibly on Why People Leave

ok when will we get to read your memoirs? i want a copy. i feel like i might be the only guy that follows your blog. But i have grown up around followers and i love to read about the things we never get to hear about. Ok so now for my questions, do you still know any of the members or were you shunned for leaving? What made the rest of your family leave the church? How do you feel about the couple that has recently been in the news? I remember that they were found guilty, but i dont remember what the charges were. i went to school with them and i have to be honest,and as i dont agree i feel for them. Finally how do you think this will affect the church and the members. onGuest Blogger, Karin, Home Birth

Suzanne, Way to go, girl! I've really appreciated your giving us a glimpse into the world of the Followers of Christ. You're a lovely woman. Thank you. on Control Measures

Keep up the good work Suzanne. Sunlight is a good disinfectant. It would probably surprise many in the FOC to know that your blog has actually made me more sympathetic to those who are trapped there. on Control Measures

Thank you so much for continuing to write your blog and educate so many of us that grew up with the Followers but never truly knew them. You have definitely hit a nerve with some people and I applaud you for speaking out. on Control Measures

Suzi, you put these things into words so well. I admire your depth of knowledge. It has to be questioned why the FOC doesnt get the results that the Bible promises. If they're following it so perfectly, why all the dead people? Older folks I can understand, but you would think that there would be better results with the children. Do they believe it literally, like as in call the elders of the church? on Signs of the True Believer

I always love, love, love reading your blogs. What a fascinating world. Thank you for sharing! on Signs of the True Believer


I cant wait to buy your book :) on Frequently Asked Questions - Part 1

I'm so excited that you are doing a book!!!! Good for you! on Frequently Asked Questions - Part 1

I like how you write about your experiences with your former church and the reasonings behind it while defending the choices of those who still remain. Very nice post. :) on Why People Stay

Thank you Suzi for being so honest about the followers. Don't let them get to you, please continue to write.. No one is losing interest, trust me. If anything you have MANY eyes waiting for the next blog. on The Calling of the Prophets

Loved your blog post. So proud of defending yourself against the nay sayers. So easy to say anything anonymously. As we know. on The Calling of the Prophets

I'm impressed by you, Suzi. Keep going. on Control Measures

As one of the anonymous posted above, your blog has also made me much more sympathetic to Followers. I am sad that they are so misinformed. As for your blog, you can hold your head up high, Suzi. You exude integrity. I have noticed that you are very careful to say what you experienced directly and what you have been told. on Control Measures

Suzanne, I am so amazed and impressed by your writing, and by your poise and maturity in the responses to these cowards. With every word you share with us, I hope you know that you are adding to the enlightenment and entertainment of your fans. I have shared your blog with my friends and family, and we all look forward to every post. Thank you for sharing your experiences and talent. on Control Measures

It is sad that they feel the need to insult you and your parents. I, for one, am glad you write these so that we might better understand why things are the way they are. I actually find that I have a kinder view rather then the opposite. on Control Measures

I look up to you for being so honest and doing what your heart told you to do. I have grown up with all the Followers I pray they will learn to rethink the ways they have been taught. I keep thinking of all those little babies who have died and could have been alive today being able to breath the fresh air they never had a chance. on Control Measures

What a great accomplishment this will be for you! My thoughts and prayers are with you on this endeavor! I would love to read it someday! ;) Tanya on W.I.P.

Suzi, just want to encourage to stay strong and continue speaking the truth. on The Calling of the Prophets

Losing interest! If this gets any more interesting they're going to make a prime time tv drama out of it. What in the world is the problem with the comment that this person quoted. I've seen nothing but respect shown to a theology that deserves none. Of course that's just judging from the comments posted here, and the precession of members getting thrown in jail. All of the disrespect and no doubt untrueths leveled here were directed at you and your parents. on The Calling of the Prophets

I for one think you are WONDERFUL AND SPEAK THE TRUTH those who think your not are only those who are trying to cover the truth.. Keep up those great work. For those of us who have lived in Oregon City all our lives no your doing the right thing. Your living your life the way the Lord wanted. You love your family. Those who believe in this Church will keep on doing what they want they have been BRAINED WASHED AND NO NOTHING ELSE. One generation after another keep on getting brained washed. Keep on giving us more information, we love it and we no you do speak the truth not hiding it. on The Calling of the Prophets

Very powerful, Suzi. on Still Coasting

All I can say is WOW, so much going on in my little town. Thank you for sharing and showing us who knew so many of these people the truth. As a child I do remember the Followers sending their kids to school when they had illness that should have kept them at home. I remember kids getting in car accidents someone from the Church would set their bones and they wouldn't be able to walk right again. I remember the kids from this Church were very nice but were not allowed to do anything with non church members.Now I know why. The Church did not want the kids to know the lies they were living. I find it sad to think that so many people have been brain washed in to believing a man like Mr. White . Makes me wonder if he thought he was a super hero of some kind. How can anyone become so much in control of a flock of sheep? What is even more sad is the fact the brain washing has been going on for years and years, each family doing it over and over and over again. They think they on Full of Faith and Scared to Death

It looks like some eyes are FINALLY being opened at FOC . They wouldn’t be attacking the truth that you are writing if they weren’t. Keep up the GOOD work. on Still Coasting

Wow Suzi! That is utterly beautiful! My heart is rejoicing as you share this testimony in what Jesus did to transform you. God is good! onOn The Mat

This blog is causing awareness, it's only confusing to find out that everything you've been told all your life is contrary to the true nature of Religion. It's confusing to become aware that despite your truest, best efforts, you're falling short of your goal of earning salvation, it can't be earned. on Darren Russell: Why I Choose Not To Use Physicians

I thought I knew Suzie pretty well back in the day. She seemed a little off to me, not stupid so much as off. Now I realize it was because she was operating with half her brain tied behind her back. If she had spoke on the subjects that she's talking about now, she would've been treated as a pariah. She was trying to be a good follower, a little too quiet, not someone to say just the right thing all of the time, and when she did, it wasn't always what you wanted to hear. BUT, I can also say That I NEVER knew her to be a bad, or immoral person, and it's a little too transparent that she's all of the sudden a horrible, immoral person? Now that she's shedding light on a subject you'd rather was never brought up. Pitiful! on Darren Russell: Why I Choose Not To Use Physicians

i agree. suzi has always spoke her mind. that does not make her off unless you are in a very conservative group. suzi makes mistakes but she is not immoral. she is a very loving and giving woman. she believes christ is her savior as he is everyones. she has a beautiful soul and would not hurt anyone intentionally. suzi, you are a courageous woman for writing and creating this blog. you set a good example for your daughter and other women to follow. it is good to tell the truth. it is good to speak up when there is wrong. christians have had to do that since jesus was on this earth. on Darren Russell: Why I Choose Not To Use Physicians

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Kelly Stone Gamble: Wiley Cash's A Land More Kind Than Home

Kelly Stone Gamble is a freelance writer and personal friend. I asked her to review Wiley Cash's novel, A Land More Kind Than Home, for this forum as the subject of the novel brought back memories of my own childhood.

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I’ve been reading Suzi’s blog from day one and although I don’t agree with a lot of the ideas that the FOC promotes, I do understand, to a certain extent, how those that have been surrounded by and immersed in a religious environment become trapped in a world of belief.   There is one thing, however, that I just can’t understand, or maybe just can’t accept.  That is the suffering that some children are forced to endure because of their parents’ choices. 

I recently read “A Land More Kind Than Home” by Wiley Cash, which is the story of two young boys, Jess and Christopher Hall, both of whom become victims of their mothers belief.  The story is told by three narrators: the church matriarch, the town sheriff and Jess Hall.  Christopher is autistic and during a church service he is killed as the preacher, Carson Chambliss, and other members of the church attempt to ‘cure’ him.  This is an oversimplified description of the book, but it is enough for me to explain what really haunts me about this story.  Even after her oldest son is killed, Julie Hall continues to follow Chambliss, forsaking the welfare of her younger son, Jess.    

Julie was raised to believe, and in this case, to believe in the words of one man who hides behind the cloak of religion.  She is a victim, too, and when her son is killed, the reader is sympathetic.  Julie is unaware that Christopher saw her and Carson Chambliss, the church’s leader, in bed.  But Chambliss does know, and decides it is time to free the demons that are the cause of Christopher’s autism.  Julie allows Chambliss to try to heal her son, and it leads to his death. 

It is not necessarily Julie’s blind following of Carson Chambliss that bothers me.  As I said, I understand how those that are raised in a religious environment can become sheep-like.  However, when one child is killed, isn’t that enough for a mother to say ‘Stop’?  Isn’t that enough to open a woman’s eyes and realize that her children, her gifts from God, are her responsibility and she must do what is best for them, regardless of what her church deems right?  At what point does providing for the safety and welfare of ones children become paramount in the lives of those that follow a religion that clearly puts those lives in danger? 

I realize that ‘A Land More Kind Than Home’ is a work of fiction, however, the incidence of parents allowing the beliefs of their church to interfere with their own responsibility to their children is not fictitious at all.  It happens too frequently and at times results in unnecessary illness and death.  As a mother, this is what I can’t accept.  God blessed us with children and it is our responsibility to care for them.  Because in the end, it is not the Carson Chamblisses of this world who will answer for the abuses of the children.  It is the Julie Halls.  

Wiley Cash, Kelly Stone Gamble, and Suzi Shumaker - June 16, 2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Darren Russell: Women's Hair

In the past, there were conflicts and disagreements among the different Followers of Christ sects so severe that the churches disassociated with one another. One of the major points of contention was over women's hair. Yes, you read that right. A bunch of old men arguing over whether or not women should cut their hair. That sounded crazy to me, so I asked Darren Russell to explain the issue. Here is his response.

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It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Photos of adherents of Oregon City's Followers of Christ Church have frequent found their way into newspapers and programs. Selling stories is much easier with grabbing photos of mug shots or court proceedings. Both sides of the court system know that juries are often swayed along with the public by first impressions. A defense attorney asks his client to look the part of a normal every day upbeat true blood American and the other side leaks and introduces to the court and press the most vilifying photos. The photos themselves depict whether a person is happy or stressed, normal or peculiar, and we begin our evaluation of that person with these impressions.

I belong to a related church with some differences. And when we see these pictures there is one that leaps out to us. We don't focus on facial expressions or even much on the dress. We see the hair. I know my first reaction at seeing some of the women on trial was, "How do they pray?"

What does hair have to do with prayer? Let me explain.

In a nutshell we are faith healing sects and rely on prayer for our healing, for many of us, it is the only recourse. Any hindrance to our prayer could have serious repercussions. If we have sin in our lives we have to root it out and confess it. We also have to show ourselves to be subject to the orders God established.

In I Corinthians 11 Apostle Paul begins with, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ," It is a plea to some brethren then, and to us today to hear him out and keep what he says. He continues, "I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you."

His subject is the significance of the head's covering and how it indicates an order with God. "But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God."  Then comes Paul's statement. "EVERY man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head.  But EVERY woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved.  For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.  A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.  For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.  It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels.  Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.  For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God." 

He reiterates and presents another argument so as to press his point home, introducing the importance of having a proper relationship with God.  "Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him,  but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering.  If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God." NO OTHER PRACTICE...possibly the Followers Church has overlooked this?

I am not exactly sure how the Followers Church escaped this teaching, but have an idea. I do know that this doctrine has been a historical bone of contention among many assemblies, and some have put it aside as if it was an old coat. Long ago beginning with Charlie Smith women were forbidden to openly pray in the church. If they are not to pray publicly then their public covering becomes a moot point. I have heard it said by many men that they preferred their wives to have shorter hair, for many women it is easier to maintain. The argument then runs that they are being subject to their husband's will and therefore in God's order! Hold on a minute, since when were men able to change God's order? How did man usurp a woman's obligation to pray? How are we – men or women – to be heard when we have not submitted ourselves to God? How are we to rely on healing by prayer when we are dishonored by what is or is not upon our head, or our spouse's? 

I would like to see some responses to these questions, perhaps a deeper discussion is in order.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Garth Young: Lost and Found, Part Three

This is the conclusion of Garth Young’s story. If you missed the beginning, last Sunday, you can find it here. If you would like to contact Garth directly, please email him:

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For the past eight years I have been evangelizing at the Clackamas County Jail. All the men at CCJ are criminals; many are hardened men and are hostile toward anything that doesn’t satisfy their own cravings for self-centered hedonism. My purpose in going into the jail is to declare the essential themes of God’s word, to the men – having had so much in common with them, spiritually speaking. The following is what I preach and hold dear.  

The bible declares that Jesus is the Son of God, the unblemished sacrificial lamb who gave himself as a ransom for sinners.  One of the fascinating things about the bible is that over a span of thousands of years, with many different human writers, disciples everywhere know it has only one Author. All the writings of scripture are inspired by God and without error. God reveals himself to us through his word and has given an undeniable calling to follow Jesus; his sheep will hear his voice and follow him. The message of the bible is often referred to as “the gospel” and means “good news” or “glad tidings”.

The good news is that God the father sent God the son into our broken, fallen world as a servant in order to purchase salvation for all who will believe. Here is the gospel in three points (1) Everyone is guilty of sin (Rom 3:23), (2) The penalty for sin is death (Rom 6:23), and (3) Jesus Christ died to pay the penalty for our sins (Rom 5:8). The entire bible from Genesis to Revelation is pointing to Jesus. His death actually purchased salvation for the people of God. Salvation is a free gift that cannot be earned, and everyone who believes in their heart and confesses with their mouth that God raised Jesus from the dead will be saved (Rom 10:9).

Jesus’ crucifixion seemed like a simple punishment for criminals of the day, but divine meaning of sacrifice can hardly be overstated. The cross is the place where the justice of God and the love of God come together, the very same place where justice was satisfied and love was poured out like a river.

The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is what sets captives free, and we who were imprisoned experience that very freedom as we trust in the great achievement of Christ for ourselves. Jesus led a perfect life without sin; he was God in human form. So, for a sinner like me, here’s where the good news becomes even better: the perfection that was required of me and was impossible for me to accomplish was achieved through Christ’s perfect obedient life. The death that I should have died, Jesus experienced, taking all my sins with him and nailing them to the cross. Because Christ was raised from the dead there is complete assurance that I am not still in my sins and my faith in him is real because He lives forevermore. 

One way of explaining this is to say my deepest motivations had changed. When God put faith into my heart I came to know Jesus, who he was, and what he did was for me personally. Along with this miracle came the new desire to follow Jesus – a desire stronger than sin. The flesh is still there with its sinful desires but the new desire is the motivation for following Christ.  Now that I have been raised with Christ, I am to set my mind on things above where he is, seated at the right hand of God (Col 3:1). The goal of growth, discipleship, and maturity can truly be pursued now since he has covered me with his righteousness and I have been sealed by the Holy Spirit as a guarantee, for the praise of his glory (Eph 1:12-14).

God’s word is much more than instruction. He speaks to me through his word and has communicated to me, that I am his. I also understand through reading the bible that as a follower of Jesus, I must persevere and continue trusting him, knowing he will finish the good work he has started in me.  The evidence of faith is works. If someone says they have faith without works then their faith is dead (James 2:26). There must be a good fruit that comes from a heart of faith, because if there is no godly fruit it’s not a real faith that saves. More importantly, what is the basis of your faith? Paul says you are saved by grace through faith and not of works lest any man should boast (Eph 2:8-9). The basis of real saving faith can only be found when it is resting upon the finished work of Jesus Christ.  Some may want to say that their faith is based in how hard they worked, how strong they were, how smart they were, what church they attended,  how many good things they did, how devoted they were, all in his name, etc. but on that final day Jesus will say I never knew you (Matt 7:23).

January 6, 2002 is the last time we attended a meeting at the Oregon City Followers of Christ. Prior to our departure we heard the gospel - through the hearing and reading of God’s word. The hearing came through our radio. It was at this point that we seriously began to seek something more than the FOC. There were many convictions, but what was most disturbing was the idea that going to that church would in some way make me holy. I didn’t have a lot of understanding, but I did understand the only way I could be justified was through faith in Jesus. I was very immature when we left, but ten years later I can truly say God has been abundantly merciful. We have come so far since the day we first understood the good news, and there is no wondering if we have made the right decision. 

We had nowhere to go. We just wanted to find a church where God’s word is taught and believed. Elaine and I were baptized September 8, 2002 in Kooskia, Idaho. We had made some friends in Kooskia because that was the home church of one of the radio speakers we listened to. It wasn’t easy finding a new church as well. Our marriage was struggling but eventually the Lord sent Christian people our way who sat down with us and helped us work out the problems in our marriage.  After eighteen months of going from church to church we finally settled down and began regularly attending a church in Gladstone, OR where we have stayed and have matured significantly in the love of Christ. 

Now our hearts have come to rest in the comfort of our heavenly father. In view of the supremacy of God nothing else matters, the main purpose for which everyone is created is to bring him glory and enjoy him forever; it is only by his working in people that anyone can will or do anything that pleases him. He is the one that matters and he is the only one worthy of worship.

As I said in the beginning, this is a brief summary. It’s not possible to touch on everything that could or should be said. I have tried to put everything on the table that is crucial to understanding what has happened to Elaine and me, and how the grace of God has changed us from the inside out.

In conclusion, there is an invitation and a warning. I sincerely invite anyone to dialogue with me about any of the questions that may have come up in your mind as you read this. The only reason I have written this is because it seems a fitting platform to reach people I dearly love, the same people that may not otherwise be reached. Secondly, in view of the distorted emphasis that salvation is somehow connected to being part of the OC FOC, and the lack of bible teaching, I do not see how it is possible for the truth to be achieved while remaining at FOC, in its current state.  The FOC has insulated itself from the truth, and is leading people in a path away from the righteousness of God. I know that may seem offensive, and many will not want to hear about the responsibility they have. The truth is that God is in control and people are held responsible for their lives. The question you must ask yourself is, am I in Christ because of His mercy and grace? Or am I standing upon the merit of my good works?