Love and Diversity

This is a two-topic post, so if you are bored with the first one, check on down and see if you like the second topic any better.

I have started to write a post for this page several times and each time deleted it, imagine several crumpled up pieces of paper thrown across the room, hurray for the digital age.  Actually, the ease of writing is one of the very few things that I personally enjoy about living in the modern world.  Otherwise, I think I was born in the wrong century.

Most times, I begin with an apology for not having written in so long.  However, I have decided that would be disingenuous of me, since I refuse to be a slave to the art of writing.  You may be sure that if I have something to say, I will say it. Otherwise, I think it is probably best if I say nothing.  Although, I have been tempted to write about what is going on around the world, or even in the US; I will refrain, at least for now, from writing about something with which I am not personally dealing with.

The last thing I wish to do is propagate a topic that riles people up towards hatred.  I don’t understand hatred of that nature.  I can fully understand hatred of a sin and what it does to a person.  The person who sins must never, ever be hated however.  As an example, I can hate liquor when my husband becomes a slave to it in the form of alcoholism.  I don’t hate my husband, just what it makes him do when he is inebriated.  We need to stop hating the person.  We might not even hate the thing itself; but whatever we do; we need to stop hating people.

Most people excuse themselves by saying that they are worried about the person’s soul and ultimate destination, as in hell.  Personally, that concerns me quite a lot.  I think about it night and day, and many times cry myself to sleep at night when I think of the millions of people who might end up in hell.  Should I have been more vocal on the evils of the sins thereof?  But then I think of my sons.  If I believe they are going to hell from the sin they are committing, what do I do?  I know that by nagging at them, I am in fact pushing them closer to the gates of hell.  The only thing I can do is love them.  Love them into the Kingdom of Heaven.  Love is the only thing that will draw them away from the gates of hell.  Because I well know that the pleasures of the flesh are too strong for me to compete against.  Reason has nothing to do with it.  People don’t sin because of a reasoned thought process.  They sin because it provides them with a crutch or simply because it feels good.  Period.  Just think for one minute about all of the people who still smoke, even though I don’t think anyone alive nowadays can be ignorant of lung cancer. I am not saying that smoking is a sin. I am just showing that it serves no purpose, other than to bring discord and break-up relationships, to reason with the person who is sinning.

Just to be clear, let us define sin.  In your own house, you have a set of rules that you and your family must abide by in order to live in your house. By the same token, God has set up a number of rules. Contrary to us, however, His rules are not capricious, they are set up for our own good and the good of mankind and the universe.  So, any time that we break one of His rules, that is a sin.  It doesn’t matter if we agree, it doesn’t even matter if a law is passed allowing it, because God never changes.  He is the same from the beginning of creation until the end.  The Alpha and the Omega. He has always known the end from the very beginning, so nothing comes as a surprise to Him. His laws are eternal, and unbreakable.  Our opinions don’t enter into the matter.

So then, how do we persuade our loved ones to follow His laws?  We can’t.  Love, real God-like love, is the answer.  Instead of hounding them and sermonizing, I believe prayer to be a better use of our time.  God can do things that we cannot even imagine in order to bring our loved ones into a right relationship with Him.  Sometimes it is actually us, with our meddling, who are stopping Him from moving in the lives of our loved ones.  Now that is a sobering thought.

 

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I am the kind of person who loves diversity.  I love that there are hundreds, even thousands of different kinds of butterflies, of birds, of dogs, of cats, of flowers, of food, and of people.  Diversity is good.  Otherwise, imagine if you were only allowed to eat hotdogs for the rest of your life.  I don’t hate hotdogs, but I can’t even remember the last time I ate one, because I really don’t like them that much.

What I don’t see any reason for is the amount of hate between the races.  It doesn’t happen with any other species, only with people.  Imagine if the tulip hurled a racial slur against the rose?  What would it even be?  Maybe something about being thorny?  When you think about it, the tulip has every right to feel sore at the rose since not many people send tulips as gifts.  I wonder how many people who read this will buy tulips the next time they think of buying roses.  Personally my favorite flower has always been the carnation.  I remember telling someone that when I was a child, a teacher I think, and the response I got was one of disgust telling me that the carnation was a very base flower, not worthy of being anyone’s favorite flower.  I thought that over and decided that was a shabby thing to say and it only solidified my love for the carnation even more.

As far as ethnic diversity, I am a prime example of the human mutt.  Since I have never really fit in, I never thought the same way as my fellow classmates, and couldn’t understand why they thought the way they did, I began early on to think that there must be some reason I was so different.  I blamed it on something in my blood, or rather heritage, which lit the flame deep within me of a burning desire to study my family tree.

At first glance, my father is 100% Norwegian, while my mother is 50% Swedish, 25% English and the other 25% is Irish and German Dutch (Prussian).  However, when I began delving into my genealogy, the truth was somewhat more diverse.  I was most proud to learn that one of my great-grandmothers was an indigenous person from the Sami tribe (vulgarly known as the Lapps).  I was also interested to find out that I have enough Jewish blood in me to make me a candidate for one of the German concentration camps during WWII.  In fact, my ancestors who I took my pen last name of Gørbitz from, were Jewish.  I am happy to say that they are not my only Jewish ancestors either.

I love that I am so diverse ethnically.   It is no wonder that I am who I am, when I have so many genetic pools from which to draw.  I will say, however, that when I went to visit my relatives in Norway, my father has eight first cousins who live there; there was a healing deep within me.  It was as if a chasm inside of me was closed up and made whole.  I felt that I had come home, at last.  My cousins (second cousins) and I spoke of it when we found that we had quite a lot more in common than we would have supposed.  One of the older cousins told me that I was the spit-n-image of my Sami great-grandmother; they told me that none of the other grandchildren looked as much like her as I did.  They couldn’t have understood what a great compliment they had paid me, not because of her character, but because of her indigenous heritage.

I already knew a lot about her, she was a family legend, although I know next to nothing about her husband, a non-Sami Norwegian.  She was a matriarch in every sense of the word, as her daughter told me that she ruled her family with an iron grip.  The family frequently speaks of her, while her good-looking husband is never mentioned.  This may be the result of her having outlived him by twenty years, as more of the family can remember her.   She was the Christian leader of her community, hosting the majority of services in her own home, even so far as being its main preacher for many years.  It is said that the day she turned ninety, she walked five miles barefoot in the snow.  This did not kill her, as she lived another six years.   As you can see, I am very proud of my heritage and I have only told you a very little of all that I have learned.

I am appalled that some people would rather not know from whence they come and even wish that we were all of one race.  I find that to be a very boring idea.   Imagine if the only flower in existence were the carnation.  That would teach my former teacher a lesson, now wouldn’t it?  But it would make the world a much duller place.  The carnation might be my favorite flower, but I love that so many other options exist. My favorite scent is the Gardenia, and I love wisteria, too.  Let’s not even start naming trees, such as the cherry blossoms of the Sakura.

What I find very strange is not in the bandying about of racial slurs, but instead the reaction of those on the other side of it.  Nicknames are a common and healthy part of human nature.  It is as stupid to not mention a color of a person’s skin as it is to avoid saying that cherry blossoms are pinkish in color, because that might offend the Gardenia.  Imagine if a law were passed saying that you could no longer refer to the color of a flower.  Stupid doesn’t begin to describe it.  It is certainly not something that should be offensive.  I grew up in South America where I was the odd fish by being white.  Did everyone call me “La Gringa”?  Of course they did.  Did I take offense?  Of course not, that would be the most ridiculous thing I could do.  It is a descriptor.  As a writer I understand the need for descriptors, how else will your readers be able to envision what you are writing about.

I remember growing up in a very small town where I was the main attraction for having long blond hair.  Women would come up to me and ask me what shampoo I used to make it that color.  I would tell them it wasn’t the shampoo, it was the sun. This caused a stir as they avoided the sun like the plague, always bundling themselves up before going out or using an umbrella in order to avoid direct sunlight.  They were afraid of getting blotches on their faces from the sun.

My first boyfriend used to tease me about making “café con leche” together.  We never did, have sex that is, but I thought it was funny (which is how he meant it) and we would laugh and I would punch him.  I did go ahead and marry the second darkest guy in town.  There were two negritos (as everyone called them and which did not offend them in the least) in town and they both vied for my attention.  I remember one day they both came to visit me and I was sick, so they were both sent away without admittance.  They were great friends and so they walked together for about half the length of town before they parted.  They both doubled back by different routes and met, not more than thirty minutes later, as they approached my house again, each from the opposite side.  This time they were both admitted to my sick room as one had brought me flowers and the other had brought me Coca-cola.  I married the Coca-cola guy.

The flower guy was of African American descent; and the Coca-cola guy, in spite of being Michael Jackson’s doppelganger (think of his Thriller days, when Michael was such a handsome man), was of Native American descent.  Now he looks more like The Rock, though.  When we married I was excited to think that I could give birth to a child of any color.  I was hoping for babies of all shades from very white, like me, to very dark, like their father.  I had seen that happen to a family where the mother was white and the father was African American; they had six children, four were dark and two were white.  Nothing could have pleased me more.  However, my babies are all the same color, how disappointing.  They all look very much alike in fact, which I guess makes it easier for them when they tell people that they are brothers.  I might add that all three of my sons are very handsome, even if I do say so myself.

As my oldest son was born in Minneapolis, MN, I was surprised when people would stop me in McDonald’s and ask if he was adopted. I would have expected people to ask me that in South America, but not in the US, the land of such diversity. Others told me he was the most beautiful baby they had ever seen.  Later when he went to Israel, people would come up to him and start speaking in Arabic or Hebrew, certain that he must be of one of those two ethnicities.  As it turns out, the father of my children does have both of those ethnicities in his family tree, which is primarily Native American from several tribes, but also includes Spanish, Moorish, and Jewish roots.

The thing about racists is that the whole topic confuses me.  I embrace my ethnicity to the point of glorying in it.  I have taught my children to also embrace their roots and their coloring, although they are the most neutral of all coloring, being what I fondly call Comino-colored; see, that is funny since we use a lot of it in our cooking.  I have taught my children to be thick skinned when it comes to name-calling.  I doubt if any of my children would be provoked to anger by being called any racial name, no matter how offensive others might feel it to be.  Not that my children are the kind that let people walk all over them, by any means.  It’s just that I taught them that nicknames say more about the people who are saying them, then about the person being called.  What’s more, my boys understand this to be true.

You see no one can control another person.  We have control over ourselves, at least self-possessed people do.  As parents we have a certain amount of control over our children, until they get to a particular age, which is different for each child.  But we can never, ever, ever, ever…understand never… have control over another person or what they may choose to do or call you.  Please re-read my last sentence, it is of upmost importance, and the reason for this post.

Personally, I feel there is much more danger from people’s hatred of Christianity than of a person’s race.  Talk about intolerance.  Yet, that is not the topic of this post, so I will refrain from saying more on that head.

I suppose that I could have split this into two posts, but I decided not to, for no reason at all.

 

 

 

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The Purpose

This is a continuation of thought from the first two paragraphs of the post that I wrote yesterday.  If you missed reading that one, titled Cats or Dogs?; you can find it here.

Ravi Zacharias spoke live last night at John Hopkins University.  By the time I found out about it, it had been over for several hours, however I was able to catch it on YouTube.    He spoke for over an hour on “The Question of Suffering and the Goodness of God.”  I highly recommend watching it.  Afterwards there was a Q&A session which went for about 45 minutes.

In answer to one young man’s question, Ravi spoke of when he was 19 and almost committed suicide.  As he lay in the hospital bed, a man came into the room and gave him a Bible and indicated that Ravi should read a portion of John 14:19, “…because I live, you also shall live.” Which his mother then read to him from the newly acquired Bible.  This changed Ravi’s life completely.

Last year, Ravi had an opportunity to speak again with the man who gave him the Bible.  The man told him that he felt that he had been brought into this life with the sole purpose of giving Ravi the Bible that day.  This touched Ravi to the core; to the point that he admitted he had shed tears.  However, Ravi was horrified that the man thought that this had been his only purpose in life.  Of course, it would be hard to be on Ravi’s end of that.  To think that God might send someone into this world with the sole purpose to give you a Bible on a particular day; well, it actually is pretty incredible.   But then you look at what Ravi has done with his life and the more you look at him and listen to him, the more credible it becomes. 

In the Bible, we know of many people who were born for one purpose. The most obvious, of course, is Mary.  Her main and maybe even sole purpose on this earth was to give birth to the Messiah.  Even Ravi would admit that this is the case.  His problem in accepting that God could put one man on this earth with the sole purpose of handing him a Bible at the right time, stems from his own sense of unimportance.  Ravi would readily agree that Jesus is worthy of someone to be born with the sole purpose to give birth to Him.  Yet, Ravi does not consider himself that important.  However, the people who listen to his messages are that important.  The ministry that Ravi has is that important.

Growing up in a large ministry family, I was always waiting for my “calling” into the ministry.  It never happened.  In anguish, thinking that I was “left out” or had somehow screwed things up to the point that God had rejected me for service; I cried out to God for an answer to the question that I had been asking myself, since I had first learned to speak.  “What am I supposed to do with my life?”  God didn’t answer me right away; in fact it took many years. 

After I gave birth to my third son, He finally answered me. 

“Your job is to be the best mother that you can be.” 

This was a confirmation of what I had felt in my spirit all along.  The problem was that I thought that wasn’t enough.  Not compared to what my brothers, parents, grandparents and great-grandparents had done with their lives.

“Yes, but what is my ministry?” I continued to ask.

“That IS your ministry,” came the response, loud and clear.

Then it hit me.  If it was enough for Mary, why couldn’t it be enough for me?  Did I think myself more important than her?  NO!  Especially, not when I thought about it in that light.

So, to follow up with the two paragraphs from my previous post; I already know the purpose of my life.  Anything else that happens in my life, apart from being a mother, is a bonus.

One last thought on this subject.  I believe that God makes use of all of His resources to bring help and salvation to those whose hearts are able to receive it.  My main purpose is to be the best mother that I can be, that is true.  He might, however, at any given time, use me to bless another. That would be a secondary purpose, however not to be considered trivial.

Studying

 Here is one for my preaching folder.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:15

In a previous post I made the comment that,  “I know what I believe, and that is thanks to my father who always told me to study things out for myself”.   There is a great difference between studying something for yourself and being taught something.  In the one, you are told what to believe.  In the other, you become the investigator, and you read not one or two books on a subject, but you might have up to twenty different books on the same subject to see what all has been said about it.  When studying scripture then you have maybe twenty different versions of the Bible to study from.  It is arduous, but it is also very rewarding when you can finally conclude a subject knowing that you know, that you know, what you believe about it.

During the Dark Ages, people were kept in the dark in an educational and a spiritual sense.  I believe we are now being lulled into an all new Dark Age.

Even with all of the resources available to people today, Google, Wikipedia, libraries and many more; it seems to me that people are more gullible now than they were say 70 years ago.  At least about the issues that really matter.  A good 80% of the people who argue about politics and issues have no idea what they themselves truly believe. How can they, if they have not studied enough for themselves on the subject?  They have been indoctrinated into believing something, but do they even know why?    People are not being taught to think for themselves anymore.  I saw this firsthand in the education of my own children, and now my nieces and nephews are in the same predicament.  Children are taught to shut up and listen and memorize the “correct” answers for the test.  You can say that is how education has always been, and in a way you might be right.  However, the text books nowadays have been altered considerably from when our grandparents were in school, and not to make them more accurate, but to indoctrinate the vulnerable youth into a very particular mindset, not only in the USA, but in other countries as well.

It is my estimation that at least 40% and maybe as much as 50% of what is being taught in the schools and in the churches is error.  The true face of evil (in my opinion) are the organizations – school boards and church committees.  Sure there might be an innocent dupe that sits on those committees, however not all of those people are innocent dupes.  Many are consciously and systematically brainwashing the sheep.  Yes, the Bible calls us all sheep, however true sheep don’t follow a different shepherd.  There is only one true Shepherd and He has many names which you can read about here, but the one we know best is Jesus.

Here, read this passage of scripture regarding sheep:

The Gospel of John 10 : 22-30

At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon. The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. “I and the Father are one.”

Might I re-iterate here that in order to qualify as to not being snatched out of His or His Father’s hand, you must actually hear His voice and not listen to the voice of another, even if he is a pastor, priest, reverend, teacher or whoever you most admire.

Do you hear His voice and do you follow IT exclusively?  If not, then you are not one of His sheep.  This is one of the things that impacted me the most when I heard this scripture for the first time, when I was maybe six years old.  I knew then, that the only thing in this world that really mattered was that I hear His voice for myself.  All of my effort in studying since then has served to re-enforce that determination.

Let me additionally say that the devil will also talk to you.  Not everything that is supernatural is good or holy.  Not every voice is God…or UFO’s [humor].   It is your responsibility to get to know the voice of Jesus and His character so well, that you will not be duped when an angel, demon, or the devil himself speaks to you.  The devil spoke to Jesus, but He was not duped, because He knew the scriptures for Himself.   The Bible says that any who are lacking discernment and wisdom can ask Him for it, and He will give it to them.

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Don’t take my word for it.  In fact, don’t take anyone’s word for it.  Study it out for yourself; it really is that important.

Read the whole context, not just a few verses at a time.

Read every verse that talks about the subject you are wanting to know about.

If you have read a verse in just one translation, then you don’t really know what it says.  Especially if that translation is the NIV.  At the very least you should be reading the King James  or this 1569 version done by Casiodoro de Reina, it is good and it is free, The Amplified, either the Hebrew or Greek Interlinear Translation (this is the best one that I know of, even if it isn’t available on Kindle), and then read it again in The Complete Jewish Bible.  At the very least you should have read the same passage (not individual verse) out of the four or five above mentioned translations before you can even begin to think you know what the passage is meaning to say.   I also use an analytical concordance, I personally prefer Young’s and he also has a literal translation that is good.

So, happy studying to those of you who are interested.

Fictional Ethics

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12

In keeping with the above verse, I have decided to not post any further 1 or 2 star reviews.  If I have posted any in the past I will probably delete them as I find them.    From now on, I will only post 3 stars and up, which means I like the book enough to recommend it to family and friends.  Otherwise, I intend to just ignore books that before I would have maybe reviewed with 1 or 2 stars.  I have decided that if something is important enough, which most times it probably isn’t, I will try to email the author directly in order to discuss whatever problem I find in the text.  If I can’t find an email for the author, then like I said I will just ignore them.  Books I have added to my profile on Goodreads that have no stars means I haven’t gotten around to reading or reviewing them, yet.

So then I ask myself, what happens when I really like the story, but there is also something I really hate about it?  That is a problem, because I would not be honest if I just wrote what I loved about the book and didn’t also mention what I didn’t like about it.  I think I will have to make the call on an individual book basis, depending on the importance of the subject matter of the thing that I hated about the book.  More often than not, what I hate about a book is the slant, the mindset or the conclusion an author makes regarding the said issue.  Also, more often than not, it is not really that important when you look at the thing objectively and when I analyze why it was that I hated it; turns out it probably hit a personal nerve of mine.  Sometimes, it is nothing more than that the book made me feel very depressed while I read it.  A fictional book should lift my spirits and make me wish I was living the life of the fictional characters, so I can live it along with them as I read the book.  I don’t need to live someone else’s fictionally depressing life.  That is just too much for me.

Then there is the question of doctrine.  Do I have a responsibility to point out “the error of someone else’s ways”, and if I remain quiet am I not just condoning the perpetuation of a fallacy?   We are all responsible for our own choices in regards to matters of doctrine.  It is the responsibility of each person to search out the truth for themselves.  However, if a person is only presented with one option, what choice do they have but to believe the lie they are being spoon fed?  Is it not a kindness to at least present a contrary option?

Oh, you may say, “It is only fiction, what is the harm if the doctrine is in error?”  The Chronicles of Narnia are only fiction, however they have taught me more doctrine and more about the character of God — who He really is, how He really thinks, how He disciplines those He considers to be His — than I ever learned in church.  I would never have grown to love God in the same way, had it not been for C.S. Lewis through his fictional character of Aslan.  So to me, it is very important how doctrine is portrayed in fiction.  Basically, if an author is marketing their fiction as “Christian Fiction” then they have a responsibility to make sure it is in fact Christian.  Anything that does not draw us closer to Christ moves us just that much farther away from Him.  So, it is very important indeed.

I understand that there are wolves in sheep’s clothing, and that many so called Christian writers are in fact not practicing Christians at all, and label their books “Christian Fiction” simply as a marketing strategy.  Of course this is not ethical, but it is done nonetheless.  I come back to the same question; do I call them out on it, or do I remain quiet on this issue, and does that not make me an accomplice to their lie?

Now I look at the above verse through the eyes of the reader, and I would in fact like to be told beforehand of such a thing, and yes it would definitely affect my choice to buy a book if I knew beforehand that the author was pretending to be a Christian for the sole purpose of selling more books.

There is a feeling out there that is gaining momentum, that if a book trashes a Biblical character that is ok, if done under the guise of Christian Fiction.  Even Jesus Himself is not immune to such degradation, as is evident in such popular books like The Da Vinci Code.  Now I have to be honest and say that although I never read the book, I did watch the movie.  Had I not known what I believe, I might have been persuaded to believe the lie.  However, I knew full well before I watched the movie what it was about, so I watched the movie fully prepared.  I knew precisely because someone had the guts to call the author out on it in reviews and made such a big stink about it that it was on the news.  I commend the person who had enough courage to do such a thing, it is not easy to stand up for what one believes and take all of the guff and backlash of such a stand.  People are not nice about it and can be very cruel when someone points out an error of doctrine like that.  The double standard is staggering, and can cause even the toughest and strongest Christian to keep silent in such cases.

On a personal note I take my Christianity very seriously, and I would rather die than bring dishonor to the Word by corrupting the Truth, especially for the sake of a fictional story.  So many authors take great pains to do research on some historical battle or person of history.  Why can they not take the same pains to make sure that if they use a character from the Bible they at least have the same respect as they do for any other historical persona?  Or at least have the decency to not try to sell it as Christian Fiction if they change it or slander a person’s character.  These are the same people who are horrified by the portrayal of President Abraham Lincoln as a Vampire slayer, but have no qualms when portraying a Biblical character as less than or even opposite from his/her Biblical persona.  Talk about hypocrisy!

When so many alternative genres are being invented, such as Young Adult and others, maybe a new genre should be invented for authors who want to twist Christianity for their own gain.  They can call it Alternative Christianity or even Anti-Christian Fiction or some such thing, so readers can know from the onset that the book is not pretending to be true to Christianity.  Of course, the wolves have no interest in being honest, so that wouldn’t work at all.

It’s too big of a problem for me.  All I can do is do the best I can with what I have, and that means I will try to stay away from such books, so that I do not have to wrestle with my own conscience trying to figure out if I should or should not call them out on it.  Right now, I have made the decision that I will not read Biblical Fiction for that reason, unless it was originally published a long time ago (40 or 50 years ago) when authors actually respected the Bible.  It’s too bad, because Biblical Romance used to be one of my favorite genres.  Stories written by authors like Patricia St. John and Sallie Lee Bell will always be favorites of mine.  Although both of these authors did take a few liberties in their Biblical stories, they always explained them in their introductions in order to alert readers to the changes, and none of those changes were slanderous to the Biblical character or to the teachings in the Biblical story.  They simply changed minor things.   You can see for yourself an example of this author’s integrity in the below foreword.

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