Saturday, January 13, 2018

Learned Helplessness

I used to think of the “church” all the time. I dreamed of it - the building and the people. I find myself thinking of them less and less. But, they come up in my reactions. In the way I view the world and the people of the world.

I have no doubt and no hesitation in calling what went on when I was there -- and what continues to happen -- brainwashing. I know you will all deny it. You have been programmed to deny it. But, whether you are able to acknowledge it or not, it is the truth.

Is the brainwashing intentional? At this point, I don’t believe there are nefarious motives. Just tradition. And fear. The way things have been done for generations. All you know. In fact, I believe the brainwashing varies from household to household. But, it’s clearly still going on.

As the folks my age (40s) are now becoming grandparents, what is passed on in the form of religious beliefs is more and more hearsay and ingrained acceptance of the word of man than the actual words of God.

It is debilitating to be under the control of a crowd - an organization - who are ruled by a strange and unreliable game of generational gossip.

Last spring, I was interviewed about the death of another FOC baby. I said I felt sorry for the family. It’s true. That baby didn’t have a chance and neither did the baby’s parents. They were young (the baby’s grandparents are younger than me!) and they were under the control of an organization they never chose for themselves. Now, they have lost custody of their other baby and are facing criminal charges and prison time.

It is not a sin to get medical care for your babies. It really isn’t a sin. You should pray and use the resources God has provided - including medical professionals. Putting your faith in God is good, but not researching your professed faith for yourself is just helplessness. And helplessness can cost you dearly.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Ghosts of Dead Men’s Beliefs

You may be surprised to discover that I was not raised in a religious community. Not really. I was raised under a shadow of religion. Like our religion was a persistent and very bossy ghost. I was told what “I” believed, but never asked. I did not experience God personally. I heard some things about other people who had experienced God. But mostly I just experienced judgement and condemnation and also participated in these judging and condemning rituals.

I wish I had grown up in a community that practiced grace and kindness.

That would’ve been amazing.

But, if things had been all soft bunnies, rainbows, and unicorns, I wouldn’t have such an interesting story to tell….

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Zero Days Without Sarcasm #newyearsresolution #2017 #sarcasm

I always make New Year's resolutions (and I always break them). Last year my New Year's Resolution was to get into shape. I joined the gym (on a 17-month contract) on New Years Day. And I went to the gym a dozen times in January, four or five times in February, and maybe three more times in all the rest of the months that followed. I have really good reasons/excuses for not going. Really. But, I will be canceling my membership in April.

This year I have a much more serious resolution: to give up sarcasm. Ugh, I can barely type that without rolling my eyes and spewing several sarcastic thoughts! Sarcasm has become an idol to me. I admire sarcasm in others. I think it is a sign of quick wit and superior brilliance. I value humor and intelligence, so it follows that I am irresistibly attracted to sarcasm in all its iterations. But, I must relinquish this dear habit because I have become aware that it is harmful.

As much as I hate quoting the dictionary, I can't bring myself to skip these convicting words:

1. harsh or bitter derision or irony.
2. a sharply ironical taunt; sneering or cutting remark

When I look at the definition of this favorite pastime of mine, there can be no justification to continue. I must give it up.

Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death
is one who deceives their neighbor and says, "I was only joking!"
Proverbs 26:18-19

I'm not sure anyone is still reading my blog but if someone does read this entry whom I have ever hurt with my "bitter derision" or "cutting remarks," would you please email me so I can attempt to make amends to you?

And, now that I have shared my 2017 New Year's Resolution, would you please leave a comment sharing what your resolution is?

Thank you and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Mormon Roots?

I first learned about the Mormon religion (a.k.a. The Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder Day Saints) in a United States History class in college. I had never heard about Mormons or the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith before that time. When I heard about this man (Joseph Smith), my immediate reaction was that he was a lunatic or heretic (or both). It was just so incredibly unbelievable.

Over the years I have known several Mormon people. Some of them were very nice, well meaning people. Others were just ... not. I guess you could say that about the people who claim just about any religious affiliation, Followers included.

In 2012, a man from another Followers offshoot (The Church of the Firstborn), named Darren Russell shared a document with me called "ARTICLES OF FAITH OF THE CHURCH OF THE FIRST BORN KNOWN AS THE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST - 1918". One anonymous commentor pointed out that the Articles of Faith were similar to the LDS Articles of Faith. Another commentor claimed that Walter White (who was the leader of the Oregon City Followers of Christ church until his death in 1969) had a maternal grandmother named Carrie, who was part of the LDS Church.

If the Followers had Mormon roots, they were quite hidden to us! We didn't read (or even know about) the Book of Mormon and the other texts the LDS church uses.

Recently, the Idaho Followers have made the news again and this time the reporter has claimed that the Followers are "fringe Mormons." Interesting. At first I dismissed this as poor reporting. But, maybe there is something to this.

If any Followers (current or former) know anything about this, would you please comment on this post and enlighten me? 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Prayer Changes Everything #prayerchangesthings #faith

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

I have recently fallen in love with the practice of prayer. I don’t know why it has taken me so many years to begin to understand the life-changing power of praying.

I have listened to sermons about prayer, read articles, and chapters of books about it. I have recited prayers by rote. I have prayed aloud, with others, and for others. I have often prayed for meals. But it has always been, well just lifeless. I don’t think I ever really believed I was communicating with God.

And I have had some really powerful experiences with prayer – answered prayers. Corporate prayers. But, for the most part, I have just not been a person who prayers every day (or even once a week).

A few weeks ago, my bible study leader encouraged us all to pray. I ignored the encouragement. Just words. The heavens are brass (see Deuteronomy 28:23).

And then I received a text from said leader asking if we’d been praying. I responded that I always forget. And she suggested I pray while driving. So I said I would, and I usually do what I say I will do, so I did.

I prayed all the way to work for my students, my students’ families, my coworkers, everyone who came to mind. And I had a really good day. I felt empathy for my students. I listened to them more closely. I started to like my coworkers more.

On the way home, I prayed for my family, church members, neighbors, and everyone else who came to mind. And the blessings continued. I pay more attention to others. To what they need and want. To their hurts and their feelings.

I continue to pray. It has completely changed my relationships.

Who knew?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Still Struggling with #Pride

I am plagued by doubts about my salvation. I cannot be good enough. I do not deserve salvation. I do not deserve grace.

I know that other people can accept that free gift, but I am convinced that I must earn it or at least be worthy. 

Maybe I am not chosen by God for salvation. 

Or, maybe I was chosen, but I have wandered too far from the straight and narrow.

Is it too late?

I am trying to believe.

I am trying to have faith.

I am trying to repent. 

I am trying to change my thoughts, words, actions, and beliefs.

I am trying to accept God's grace and forgiveness.

I really am trying to figure this out. Maybe I'm trying too hard.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

I Am Smart. I Am Strong. I Am Independent. #seekinggod

I just spent an hour at the gym and I came home feeling GREAT! Thirty minutes on the elliptical, 2 sets of 15 reps on all the weight machines. I am walking on air! I can conquer anything! 

Oh, and have I mentioned in the past ten minutes my collection of advanced degrees? How many countries I've visited? My IQ? The number of books I read each week?

If you know me in real life, I probably have.

You can probably tell that I struggle, really struggle, with pride. Satan's sin of choice. That's me: SO important. SO smart. SO independent. 

And, really, to be honest: so lost.

I read the Bible, but it doesn't change who I am. It doesn't make me a better person (how could it when I already think so highly of myself?).

I go to church and Bible study, but it's more for education (or entertainment) than for worship.

And I feel so far from God.

Tonight, two people came to my mind. Two people I think are "weak" and emotionally fragile. Not me. Nope. No way - I have it all figured out. 

But, wait....maybe being weak isn't the worst thing that could happen to me...

It's time to be honest: I have hit a "wall" in my faith - well, I likely have been walking around this wall for years - and I am ready to find my way THROUGH it. 

Prayers would be welcome.

That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 
2 Corinthians 12:10