Uncharitable Conversations

How often have you found yourself listening to slander, gossip, or something untruthful and felt a sense of discomfort? This post has some great thoughts on how to respond.

SaintlySages

St. Paul writes: “Contend not in words, for it is to no profit, but to the subversion of the hearers.” (2 Tm 2:14)

Concerning this perennial bane of social interaction, Padre Quadrupani remarks: “Disputes, sarcasm, bitter language, and intolerance for dissenting opinions, are the scourges of conversation.” In the following, he addresses the question of what to do when a conversation turns uncharitable.

“If you hear some evil spoken of your neighbor do not immediately become alarmed, as the matter may be true and quite public without your having been aware of it. Should you be quite certain that there is calumny or slander in the report, either because the evil told was false or exaggerated or because it was not publicly known, then, according to the place, the circumstances and your relations towards those present, say with moderation what appears most fitting to justify or excuse your neighbor. Or…

View original post 282 more words

Advertisements

Quiz: How do you solve a puzzle?

Jigsaw_puzzle_01_by_Scouten                                                                                        (image source)

I’ve had a compelling urge to do a puzzle lately. Not really sure why, but the process has me amused. As stated in my “About This Blog” page, I think we all just need to have fun sometimes. So, I figured I’d share some questions I’m having in the form of a light-hearted quiz to see if anyone else finds this as amusing as I do. I don’t think the results will shed any great insights into our personalities, but maybe I’m wrong. Feel free to offer deeper observations about what our answers say about us if you’d like. Or, just take it for what it is and have some fun with me. Questions 1 and 2 are just groundwork. I think the fun begins at question 3 – at least that’s when I started chuckling at myself.

  1. Do you sort the pieces before you start the puzzle, or do you just dig right in? I sort.
  2. If you do sort first, how do you sort? I sort out the edge pieces first and get the frame done before I start.
  3. When you’re sorting the pieces, if you discover some pieces that are already attached together, do you feel guilty (like you’re cheating) if you don’t disassemble them before beginning the puzzle? Or, do you think, “Yay!” and feel like you’ve won a prize? I must admit, I feel a bit like I’m cheating, but I leave them together anyway because it just seems silly if I don’t.
  4.  As I pondered why I wanted so badly to do a puzzle, I thought, “Does this mean I’m getting old?” You don’t need to answer as to whether you think I’m getting old, but feel free to ponder if doing a puzzle makes you feel like you’re just one step away from a nursing home activity center. I took solace in the fact that I actually borrowed this puzzle from my son who is 26 years old and loves doing them, too. I suppose you might even defend puzzle working as a way of feeling young again. I also enjoy coloring, so maybe these things go together. Do you have any thoughts on puzzle assembling and age?
  5. Do you count the puzzle pieces before you start to make sure you don’t get to the end only to find you have a piece missing? I did not count them for this puzzle since it’s a 1,000 pieces. I did, however, consider that option.
  6. If you do get to the end of a puzzle and there is a piece or two missing, how do you feel? Was it time wasted? I usually make a dramatic scene – Can you believe that? All that work and I can’t even finish the puzzle! But really, I don’t think it’s a big deal. I enjoy the process either way.
  7. My final question is not about puzzles. Just wondering if you’ve had similar urges to do something you haven’t done in a long time, just for fun. Did you do it? Why, or why not?

Can “Daughters of Eve” Never Be Free from The Curse? Exploring “Rule” and “Desire” in Genesis

Until now, I have avoided blogging about “the woman issue” in the church because, frankly, I grew tired many years ago of being “the issue” and just decided to fulfill my calling. No need for further debate. Just lead by example and move on, I convinced myself.

Recently, however, one of the young women I used to mentor told me she would be using the book Captivating by Stasi Eldredge for a women’s Bible study she leads. I told her to be sure she sought out other sources for a balanced view. The very same day, I ran across Samantha Field’s blog and connected her to it since Field is currently running a series reviewing the Eldredge book.

I’ve had several follow-up conversations with the young woman as she’s gone through her studies. This has taken place in a private Facebook group we share with several other women. What has struck me in this group discussion is that, no matter how many voices there are out there encouraging women, the voices that seem to penetrate deepest (probably because they’ve heard them the longest) are those that tell them to “stay in their place.” This grieves my heart. And so, with that, I add my voice to those calling out for the redemption of the “daughters of Eve.”

As a starting point, I’ve chosen to add some commentary to Field’s most recent post. Here’s the excerpt from her post that prompted me to write today.

From Field – The next two pages are Stasi Eldredge sounding exactly like Helen Andelin (“It was a brilliant trap, well set,” because women should “cunningly” ensnare their husbands with manipulative traps), and then she relates a story about “Betsy” who was married to a “verbally abusive man” who was an elder, “mean,” who “villainized her to their children, their church.” But what did Betsy do– and what all women in her situation should do? She “didn’t seek divorce”; instead she: invited him to feel the weight of his consequences … She fasted and prayed … She gave him many tastes of what life could be like together …

The advice from Eldredge sounds a lot like the consequences of the curse for the relationship between men and women. When studying the curse and specifically the word “desire” in Genesis 3:16 (“Your desire will be for your husband, but he will rule over you.”), it is interesting to see the wording of that passage is almost identical to Genesis 4:7 in the story of Cain and Abel. There, sin is said to be desiring to overtake Cain, but he can master it. It seems like Eldredge is advising women to give in to the ungodly desires and tactics brought on by the curse.

A third parallel passage to this usage of “desire” (the only three times this word is used in the Bible) is found in Song of Solomon 7:10. There it says, “I am my beloved’s and his desire is for me.” Note the positive image of desire in Song of Solomon, as well as the role reversal. The context is a picture of a mutual relationship – She is his; he does not have to make her submit. “Rule” is not found, or needed, here. The context of Song of Solomon would indicate that this is a description of what the redeemed male-female relationship should be like, a contrast to the fallen state. It is a beautiful image.

But alas, most patriarchists would have women forever bound to the curse. “Daughters of Eve” are never to be free – not even in Christ.

Sometimes the Whale Is Your Salvation

Man, this place stinks! How did I end up here? The darkness … the slime … it’s suffocating. God, I can’t take much more of this. I haven’t been that bad have I? Why are you punishing me? I know I didn’t want to go to Ninevah, but nobody wants to go to Ninevah – no self-respecting, righteous person anyway. I am one of your people, so why would you treat me like this? It’s just not fair.      

This is how I imagine Jonah’s inner dialogue during his “whale of a crisis.”

The story of Jonah and the whale is one of the first Bible stories told to children in Sunday School and at bedtime. We learn from this account not to disobey God as Jonah did.

As the story goes, God told Jonah to go to the wicked city of Ninevah and warn the people that they were going to be punished for their sins. Jonah did not want to go to Ninevah (mainly because he didn’t like the part where God was also offering to extend mercy to the Ninevites if they turned from their sinful ways). So, he fled from the Lord and hopped on a boat going to Tarshish. During this trip a great storm arose.

When the men on the boat discovered that Jonah’s disobedience was the reason for the storm, they threw Jonah overboard. This is when Jonah was swallowed by the whale. After Jonah said a prayer of repentance, the Lord commanded the fish to spit Jonah up onto dry land. Once Jonah recuperated from his ordeal, he finally went to Ninevah and did as the Lord had instructed.

We usually think of the whale incident as part of Jonah’s punishment, his “trial” if you will. It did, of course, help Jonah come to repentance, but consider what Jonah’s state was before the fish swallowed him – he was drowning. Chapter 2 of the book gives a very graphic account, in Jonah’s own words, of what that experience was like…

“You hurled me into the deep,

into the very heart of the seas,

and the currents swirled about me;

all your waves and breakers

swept over me…

The engulfing waters threatened me,

the deep surrounded me;

seaweed was wrapped around my head.

To the roots of the mountains I sank down;

the earth beneath barred me in forever.

But you brought my life up from the pit,

O Lord my God.”

What means did God use to deliver Jonah from this horrible state of drowning? He used the whale! The great fish came and swallowed Jonah, thus saving him from death. Jonah 1:17 says, “…the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.”

Granted, a three night stay in the belly of a fish would not be pleasant. It was surely dark, smelly, and slimy. Yet, this experience was provided by the Lord to deliver Jonah. It was a blessing.

This brings to mind James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Trials may come for various reasons. Some are our own doing. Many of the epistles warn us to be careful that our desires for riches or pleasures do not lead us into troublesome situations (e.g., I Tim. 6:9; James 4:1; Gal. 6:7,8).

Other trials seem to be set up by God himself to test us and purify us. Paul said he was given his “thorn in the flesh” to help keep him humble (2 Cor. 12:7-10). Likewise, David (Ps. 119:67-75) acknowledged that God afflicted him to teach him to obey God’s word.

There are also trials brought on by the enemy of our souls (see the book of Job). And, alas, many of our trials are just the natural consequences of living in a fallen world. In the book of Romans (especially chapters 5-8), Paul goes into great detail as to how the world has been corrupted since the fall of Adam. Death, sickness, and strife will be a part of human existence until we are in heaven.

Regardless of the source, however, James and Paul both tell us to count it a joy when we face these trials. We can do this because we know that the Lord will use the trials of life to perfect us and help us mature. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Even things that seem bad in our lives will be worked out by God for our eventual good. Paul says that the good that will come is better than we can ever imagine. He reminds us (Rom. 8:18) that “…our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

When we feel as if we are drowning in our troubles, it may help to remember this lesson. Sometimes what we consider to be a terrible trial is being used by God to make us become more like Christ. We can come out of trials better people than when we went into them. In this sense, the trials can rescue us from our own nature and help us mature in spirit. Sometimes the whale is our salvation.

 

* Scripture references from the Holy Bible, New International Version.

The Merge to Host Screening of When the Saints Documentary

Friday, July 11 @ 7:00 pm, The Merge will be hosting a screening for the When the Saints documentary.

When the Saints Film documents the story of one man’s mission to end sexual exploitation in the heart of Malawi, Africa, and his journey to discover that it begins in his own heart. Beautiful, honest, vulnerable, and wildly compelling, this story challenges us all to explore the unplumbed depths of our hearts. It calls us to care about justice for girls who are trafficked in rural Africa, and at the same time asks us to examine the ways we either dignify or exploit our brothers and sisters. Both thought provoking and universal, this film is a powerful tool to rally the saints with a greater cry for purity.

Take a look at the movie trailer.