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    What is Eternal

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008, 9:15 PM [General]

    Contemplative words...371d36d75e05eda735858f8e467be99c

    AND HERE IN THE NIGHT
    AS I FEEL THE INFERNO
    I STARE IN THE DARK
    THINKING WHAT IS ETERNAL
    THE MAN OR THE MOMENT
    THE ACT OR THE REASON
    THESE THOUGHTS FILL MY HEAD
    AS I CONTEMPLATE TREASON

    THE DREAMS I HAVE HAD
    AND DREAMS I HAVE PONDERED
    WHEN LATE IN THE NIGHT
    MY MIND IT WOULD WANDER
    TO THINGS I HAVE DONE
    AND THEN QUICKLY REGRETTED
    WHILE DENYING VICES
    MY LIFE HAD SELECTED

    AND I THINK WHAT I'VE DONE
    OR HAVE YET TO BEGIN
    AND THE MAN I'VE BECOME
    AND THE MAN THAT I'VE BEEN
    NOW CAUGHT IN A WALTZ
    WITH THE ETERNAL DANCER
    I'M COURTED BY DEATH
    BUT DEATH ISN'T THE ANSWER I SAY

    ALL I WAS MEANT TO BE
    COULD I SUDDENLY JUST DECIDE
    NOT A THOUGHT WOULD SURVIVE
    COULD IT BE MY LIFE'S WORTH
    ENDED THERE WITH MY BIRTH

    NOW CALLING TO GOD
    FROM THE PIT'S VERY BOTTOM
    I PRAY HE FORGIVES
    EVERY SIN I'VE FORGOTTEN THIS DAY

    AND WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT
    THAT MY FATE IT WOULD CONJURE
    THIS TWIST IN THE ROAD
    ON WHICH I HAVE WANDERED
    EACH VISION AND DREAM NOW
    COMPLETELY DISMEMBERED
    TO GIVE ONE'S WHOLE LIFE
    AND FIND NOTHING'S REMEMBERED

    AND WHAT GOOD IS A LIFE
    THAT LEAVES NOTHING BEHIND
    NOT A THOUGHT OR A DREAM
    THAT MIGHT ECHO IN TIME
    THE YEARS AND THE HOURS
    THE SECONDS AND MINUTES
    AND EVERYTHING THAT
    MY LIFE HAS PLACED IN IT BETRAYED

    THE THINGS I HAVE DONE
    THE PLACES I'VE BEEN
    THE COST OF MY DREAMS
    THE WEIGHT OF MY SINS
    AND EVERYTHING THAT
    I'VE GATHERED IN LIFE
    COULD IT BE LOST IN THIS NIGHT

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    The Nature of Faith

    Tuesday, December 9, 2008, 9:57 PM [General]

    Do you believe in God... or in history?

     

    371d36d75e05eda735858f8e467be99c"Jesus said, 'So, you believe because you've seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.' "

    ~John 20: 29

    This quote is one of the most famous in the Bible. It refers to the apostle Thomas, who was missing when Jesus first appeared to the apostles after his resurrection. Thomas was told about the appearance, but he doubted it, claiming he had to put his fingers in Jesus' wounds before he would believe it was really him. The next time Jesus appeared, Thomas was with them. Jesus invited him to put his fingers in the nail wounds, and Thomas believed.

    Well, that's how it supposedly went, anyway.

    There's an interesting thing about this particular often-told story. It appears in only one gospel - John's. John's gospel is believed to have been written after Thomas'. There are several places where biblical scholars feel John directly refutes Thomas. Thomas clearly had a different view of Jesus' life than John did, and this was a major controversy in the early Church. So the question is... did the "Doubting Thomas" scenerio take place? Or is it just another example of John discrediting Thomas? We don't know for sure.

    This leads us to another question: Does it matter?

    Lately several books have come out with interesting theories about the life of Jesus. Most notably, Dan Brown's "The DaVinci Code" puts the theory that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene in the forefront. Many Christians are offended by the thought. Some have even suggested theories on how Jesus "resurrected" - that perhaps he wasn't totally dead; that the apostles removed the body and proclaimed him resurrected; etc, etc, etc. People get very passionate in defending the biblical Jesus against these more "human" ideas.

    Again, I ask the question: Does it matter?

    As I read "The DaVinci Code", I was a little taken aback by the ideas suggested. But when I thought about it... whether or not Jesus was married, it really doesn't detract from the impact his life had in the world. As I continued to ponder this idea, which was in direct conflict with everything I had believed about Jesus' life before... I realized... it didn't really matter to me.

    Someone asked me if I believed Jesus truly did resurrect from the dead. I don't believe in pushing my believes on someone else at all - even this blog is more just documentation for my own journey to truth. But I realized something in deciding how to answer his question. I realized that believing in the biblical stories - in the chastity of Jesus and his resurrection, in all of those age-old tales that we've learned about since birth - believing those things amount to believing in historical events. It is no different than believing in the events of World War II.

    And I asked myself... Shouldn't faith be deeper than that?

    Faith - true faith - involves what you believe about God, about other people, about your purpose here on earth. It is a belief in a higher power and a higher purpose. There is no doubt the events described in the Bible can lead a person to a certain sense of faith. But believing the events took place exactly as they are documented is not the key. The key is reading those stories, contemplating their message about God and life, and developing an individual sense of purpose based on those thoughts.

    Faith isn't the result of a history class. Your faith is the basis for how you live - the choices you make, the words that you say, the way you treat others. It is individual and personal. You may choose to make Jesus' life your prime example, and that is definitely easier to do if you believe in the events of the canonical Gospels. You may choose to make Mohommad your example. Or Mother Theresa, or Buddah, or Joe down the street. But it is when you put more thought into it, when you pray (really PRAY - see previous entry) about it and really contemplate what those events mean to you - that is when that faith becomes a part of you and starts having a real impact on your life.
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    Random Memory...

    Tuesday, December 9, 2008, 7:56 PM [General]

    One of a small collection of random memories of experiences that affected my spiritual perspective.

     

    371d36d75e05eda735858f8e467be99c

    When The DaVinci Code came out, several of my students (knowing I was a practicing, knowledgeable Catholic) asked me if I was planning on reading it. One student in particular, a fellow devote Catholic, was very wary of reading the book even though all of her friends had read it and raved about it. One day, she stayed after class and asked me if I would be bothered by the premise of the book. I responded that since I hadn't read it, I really didn't know the story. She explained that the theory promoted in the book was that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had children, cringing as she said it. "Wouldn't that bother you? That whole idea?" I thought about it for a moment... only a moment... before I said, "Whether Jesus was married, had children, had a beard... honestly, whether he resurrected from the dead... none of that changes the example His life set for me; none of that changes the effect His words have on my heart."

    ==================================

     

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    The Jungle in My Mind

    Wednesday, November 5, 2008, 2:00 PM [General]

    It's not easy explaining to a perfectly rational person how an irrational mind works.

     

    371d36d75e05eda735858f8e467be99c

    I crashed hard this weekend... to the point of convulsive crying while holed up in my bedroom. I'm still physically shaking as I write this. But for the first time, I've actually had enough time after the initial crash to think about what was going on in my head... along with someone close to me who truly cared to know. So I have been doing my best to explain it to her using metaphors and visualizations.

    Something usually triggers the crash, but it's not necessarily anything that would bring down a "normal" person in the least. Usually there is a build-up of things beforehand, and when I look back now I can see how various stressers piled on each other. I'm a fairly intelligent person; I can handle multiple things at once and handle stress fairly decently (better than many in my position, both professionally and mentally) as long as it's spread out a bit. I am a strong person (my best friend keeps telling me that... and keeps telling me to tell myself that). My mind can handle a lot, and when all my neuro-transmitters are firing well I can take on just about anything.

    But when they start misfiring... when they start shooting randomly around in my brain... everything goes haywire. And that's what happened this weekend. Something struck me oddly (nothing that should have); a neuro-transmitter fired randomly among all the transmitters that were firing in dealing with all those stressers that had built up; all hell broke loose inside my head.

    My doctor calls it "mind racing". Thoughts start and I can't stop them, no matter what I do. They could be the most irrational ideas; they could be completely opposite of what I know in my heart to be true... but I still can't stop the thoughts. I get suddenly very suspicious of people I trust completely. I'm suddenly convinced I'm a horrible mother. I suddenly believe my colleagues at school are against me. I lash out at anyone who says anything contrary to my suggestions. I take everything in the worst possible way... because that is the road down which my thoughts take me. Over the course of literally five minutes, I can go from completely trusting my best friend to fully believing she wants nothing to do with me... all from one short, completely innocent conversation.

    People -- my friend, my husband, my mother -- tell me to just stop thinking the worst; to trust in them. The thing is... I do, completely. But I can't stop the thoughts. They tell me to just beat those thoughts back down; I can't. When I'm triggered and going through this, there is very little I can do to stop what's happening. I pray constantly; eventually I do come out of it, sometimes a few days later, sometimes a couple weeks later.

    I have found ways to avoid it most of the time. Confront people directly and immediately if I may have misunderstood something. Talk through everything before going to sleep at night. Pray constantly, keeping my relationship with God fresh on my mind. Enjoy nature whenever possible, which also keeps God on my mind.

    But it still happens.

    What does it feel like? Inside my head, it feels like... like thousands of small marbles mixing around with no pattern to the colors and no consistency to the movement. The inside of my head feels like it is shaking -- literally shaking. My body trembles as every muscle tense up, trying to stop the shaking in my head. Coherant thought is extremely difficult, if not impossible. I can't line up any of the marbles.

    I watched "A Beautiful Mind" the other day for the first time. Excellent movie. I could identify with John Nash. I've never been to the point of imagining people like he was, but as my friend and I discussed, I imagine problematic situations where there are none. Usually I have suffered through it without discussing my inner workings with anyone else; this time, I talked with her about it. She can't relate, but I think she's starting to understand. The best part is that she's sticking with me regardless of my intermittant insanity.

    Still recovering. Hopefully the shaking in my brain will die down soon. It wears me out; I get so tired from this... which seems so odd to people because all they see is me laying in bed. But there is all this activity inside that they don't see, and when rest can finally come, I need it desperately.

    Once I can slow down this marbles just a little more, I think I'll be able to rest. Sometimes I wish I'd just lose them; at least then my head wouldn't hurt so bad.

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    The YA Generation

    Saturday, October 18, 2008, 10:58 AM [General]

    This wasn't on Bnet -- it's an excerpt from a Jonathan Darman article in Newsweek. But it reflects a major shift in society that I've witnessed while teaching in the secondary setting.371d36d75e05eda735858f8e467be99c

    Dear Young Americans:

    I won't tell you how special you are because you've heard it all before.

    I don't have to tell you how special you are -- which is good, because I don't think you're particularly special. Then again, I'm one of you, so I wouldn't. Born in 1981, I am part of a generation that is accustomed to being coddled and cheered and championed, even when we haven't done much at all. It started in the cradle when our baby-boomer parents gazed into our innocent faces and saw perfect, wonderous reflections of their perfect, wondrous selves. It continued as soccer coaches and ballet teachers turned into SAT tutors and career counselors -- people whose job was to make sure the world understood just how wonderful we were. The Internet sealed our fate. Our parents and grandparents, enthralled and a little terrified by the transformative power of technology, watched as we neatly picked up our lives and moved them into HTML. We learned to expect applause for simply showing up.

    And really, if we're honest, that's all you've done -- show up.

    ================================= 

    I really wish we could somehow change this about our currently generation. Economy, national security, energy... all of these are certain problems in our country. But no problem is more far reaching or impactful to the future of this country and our world than the selfrightious attitude of our younger generations.

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