Monthly Archives: December 2016

Feasts are necessary things

One of my early lessons from reading the entirety of the Bible was noticing how many feasts God chose for His people.  Lots.  And proper parties, where everyone came and shared and everyone went home full.  Community happened, blessings were shared.   Look it up for yourself.  God likes a good party.

I’m a Protestant with Messianic leanings – I know that most of the West’s holidays were lifted from various European traditions and paganism.   I battled that back and forth for a good while, because Truth is important to me.   Finally I decided that the heart of the holiday is what matters.   The idea of community, and whatever it is that we’re celebrating.  That’s why I have little use for Halloween – celebrating evil isn’t my bag.  But Christmas?  Christmas is good.  On Christmas, we celebrate our Lord’s birth.  Was He born in December?  Very unlikely.  But we don’t have a date.  So, we use this one.   Whatever. I was born in December – there are plenty of years I’d just as soon celebrate my birthday in June.  Would be more convenient.  (I don’t, but it’s been done).

What do we celebrate on Christmas?  What do we do?  We get together as families, and we worship the King.  We give each other gifts, because He gave us the best gift of all time.  And we feast.

Souls need feast times.  Times of joy, times to eat the richest food and drink the most elaborate drinks.  Feast times give us a reason to endure the normal days, a reason to endure the fast times.  Protestants tend toward asceticism – as if the porridge and water of everyday, virtuous and healthy as it is, should be EVERY day.  But lives need rhythm – and the memory of the Christmas feasting carries one through the dark days of January and February.

In other words, eat the fudge, drink the eggnog, have your fill – and you likely won’t want another serving for a year.  Hug your relatives, sleep late, enjoy your presents and don’t feel guilty.  You were created to enjoy feasts, and isn’t that kind of cool?  🙂

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Modern Gnosticism

I’ve been people watching for the last few months and I see a common problem – something I’d like to refer to as modern gnosticism.

Because our flesh is inherently flawed, we distrust the flesh.  Because we can now choose to retreat to the realm of the intellect through being plugged in to the internet, we pull ourselves away from reality.  This affects our ability to deal with reality.  As we draw ourselves away from others, from the life of the flesh, we forget that we need each other, flawed or not.    We forget that the flesh matters – that we cannot simply deny the flesh entirely, that we were made to enjoy the flesh – but within limits.

We’ve lost the pure mammalian reality of life in flesh suits – we don’t know how to touch other humans in non sexual ways, so we keep animals so we have *something* to touch, and our sex drives go off their rockers.  Women used to groom one another, men used to roughhouse.   Simple touch – a country dance, the rituals of chivalry, a game of tug of war – those things used to remind us (delightfully) of the difference between the sexes.  And humans need touch, from cradle to grave.   But we lost that casual touch, and now we don’t know how to touch at all.  Suddenly you have to give consent for a kiss…

We’ve lost the community of food, so we divide ourselves into those eating clean, those eating for comfort, and gastronomes.  Where is the simple breaking of bread among friends, with laughter?  Instead, we pour all our sensory desire into our mouths, making us obese or obsessed, with very little in between.   Food is the one place all our flesh desire ends up, it seems… the flesh *will* out, and everyone has to eat sometime.  And yet we admire those who evidently have overcome their flesh.

Where, for that matter, has laughter gone?   When was the last time you laughed with a real, live, friend?  Do you have real, live friends?  Do you know what the smell of their skin is?  What their hands feel like in yours?   The way they hold their faces when they’re angry or sad?

We are besieged by sound.  When do we get to listen to silence?  The modern world is always noisy, but how much of that noise do you actually *listen* to?  When do you sit, still and concentrating, to enjoy a musical performance?  No.  We drive with the radio on, watch TV while we eat, and layer noise upon noise.   We shield ourselves from the assault of noise by adding more noise.  We are constantly seeking aural input.  Why??

We like to pretend that only the life of the mind matters, that all this craziness going on around our bodies is irrelevant.

And the problem with that is that we ARE flesh.  Or at least we live in flesh, and always will.  (Yes, we get new fleshsuits – better fleshsuits – but still bodies that will be able to eat and hug and laugh).  We can’t separate out a problematic part of our nature and just ignore it.  And we can’t control all of it – we can’t control aging bodies or the behavior of others.  I can’t control the roar of a motorcycle gunning its engine outside my front door.  So then – do we learn to surf reality?  No, lately we pull ourselves away into virtual reality – it’s so much safer, after all.  We never have to deal with other humans, messy and complicated.

We forget how to deal with life in the flesh, and we were never meant to do that, no matter how tempting it is.

Give this some thought, and give me your feedback.  I’m seeing it more and more often these days… are you?

 

 

 

We write stories about ourselves

All the humans that I know write stories about themselves in their heads.   I’m not even going to evaluate whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I’m pretty sure that it’s both. Just a human thing.  We categorize ourselves in words, we categorize ourselves with favorite anecdotes, we categorize ourselves by our tastes and preferences.   The story that we tell about ourselves, at least to ourselves, becomes well-worn, like a favorite coat.

But occasionally we realize that the narrative that we’re writing has become more fiction than fact.   It is then time to readjust, to examine ourselves, to examine what we know to be true, to throw out some acid tests, and figure out who we really are.    It is a good thing to reevaluate, it is healthy.    And sometimes we change profoundly, and have to take on new words, new ways to describe ourselves.

During any evaluation, it is necessary to start with truth.  I am never more grateful for my Bible than when I’m doing heavy thinking – I can slam my thoughts, my randomness, up against the Word and see what sticks and what boils off into nothingness.  I am never more grateful for the Lord than when I weep in prayer and He refused to let me get away with lies… lies that I tell *myself*.   It is no wonder that those who seek to find truth without Truth Himself get lost.

It’s good to test ourselves, to check to see that we are telling the truth about ourselves to ourselves.  Because we change.

There’s something that our society has lost, the concept that adults continue to change and grow over a lifetime.  If there is any understanding of that, it gets engulfed by the reinvention of self popularized by those who leave their commitments, their lives, to “find themselves”.   (See above for the solution to that problem).  This is a great pity.  One is left to the extremes of one set of people who seem to think that they’re completed humans after about 30 or so, and the other set of people who run off the reservation.

Because life has stages, and you need to respect the stages.  Just because I’m in one stage doesn’t invalidate the lessons I learned in another stage, or make it “bad”.  It would be bad for me to remain in the stage that I have outgrown, it was not bad for me to live there when that’s where I was as a person.

I’m 44 now, so I’m officially “mid-life”.  My kids are in their teens, or close to.  Should I be mothering my kids the same way I did ten years ago?  My wedding ring is old enough to order its own beer.  Should I be the same kind of wife I was twenty years ago?   Of course I’m a more efficient homemaker now.  Shouldn’t I be?

It’s time to re-evaluate, to re-center, to stop telling myself the same things over and over again.  Retreat to fact, and re-emerge, brushing fables off like spiderwebs, and blooming in new ways.

It’s time to tell a new story.