Thursday, August 30, 2012

Religious Virtues that Satan loves

Will-worship -- noble suffering, dying to self, submission rather than aiming in faith for the joy of life
legalism -- sticking to the letter of the law (as opposed to also trusting the spirit.)
repressed anger -- rather than speaking up against injustice
religious debates -- (it's okay to discuss one's faith but it's not men's wisdom that proves our religion: it's the power of God.)
Believing Everything is The Will of God -- This seems to be saying that God is omnipotent and sovereign, but it also blames God for stuff we or the devil or the world does.
Pity -- Pity will keep someone sick for ever.
Rationalism -- humans like to be praised for being good thinkers and for not being "emotional."
Denominationalism -- People like thinking they are on a good team.
Pious platitudes -- People think they are being wise and kindly when they say something holy-sounding. But they are often reinforcing some sentimental unthought-out unexplored bunch of hooey.

The reason he likes these virtues is because people think they are being good when they do them but sometimes are really falling into spiritual error and the devil's clutches.

Now, let's get into the seven deadly sins and the virtues.

The seven deadly sins are
gluttony -- enslavement to food (from overeating to only desiring a specific kind of food. A thin person who wants to eat only a specific kind of cracker or only a specific kind of beer is as much enslaved to gluttony as someone who overeats.)
sloth -- literal, intellectual, and spiritual laziness
lust -- enslavement to the desires of the flesh
anger/wrath -- enslavement to passion
envy -- enslavement to comparing one's self or one's earthly goods with others
pride -- enslavement to one's self
greed-- enslavement to the need to take everything the world has

The book of Proverbs definitely talks about these sins. Chapter 6:6-11 is good. The Book of Proverbs has 31 chapters. The best way to read it is to read the chapter for each day. On the 30th read chapter thirty, etc.

They are deadly because some sins are not sins unto death. But a deadly sin has the power to cut one's life short. Adultery, for instance, shortens life. (Did you know that less than 1% of people die while having sex but that of those who do die having sex, 87% or so were cheating on their spouse?) Gluttony also shortens life. As does sloth. And definitely pride. It goes before a fall. If someone becomes sick because of one of these sins, one may or may not pray for a full recovery because they have a sickness unto death caused by a deadly sin.

The Catholic church has a different interpretation of these sins..and I think (not sure) make them sins that even affect folks after their deaths. They have mortal (deadly) sins and then they have venial sins. The Catholic church also has it's list of virtues. Virtue can be something a person attains by working toward it. Or it can be something that grows in the person through the working of God.

The virtues depend on which list you're using. In the Bible James talks about a list of virtues, so does Paul, so does Peter in his "golden chain". 2 Peter 1:5 This leads to this which leads to that.

If you go to www.Biblegateway.com and do searches for these specific sins you can find a whole store of verses. They have a ton of Bible translations online. French, English, Czech, Spanish, etc.

The virtues are:
Temperance -- moderation to the point where an inner stillness prevents you from being pushed this way and that by the world, or by your own self
Faith -- the ability to hold on to God's truth in spite of what one's eyes or mind tempts one to believe.
Hope -- the ability to see a way through when there seems to be no way and to not despair. Hope also has a joy to it. This isn't just blindly trudging along but joyously advancing. It's combined with faith a lot. Because we have faith in God and in what God says we can hope joyfully.
Love or charity or Mercy -- kindness and understanding toward those who are weak, ignorant, or our enemies
Restraint or forbearance -- having the power to do a thing and yet to not do it because of the love one had for one's neighbor, the refusal to use one's power of speech, action, etc because God has a higher purpose than you merely succumbing to your desire to say or to do something.
Justice -- this is a toughie to describe.
Courage -- spiritual faith that does not falter when it is threatened.
Prudence -- the ability to think and weigh out a matter and to see the ramifications of one's choice instead of rushing headlong into trouble, also being aware that God has his own plans and our plans depend on him.

There are other virtues...virtues that are the opposite of the seven deadly sins, virtues from other traditions, etc. But for the moment, these are the ones worth pondering. -C

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender in Fantasy

In the course of reading, one always encounters folks one would generally not encounter, or folks one would not normally want to meet. Witness the enraged moviegoer racists who had to deal with the fact that Rue in the Hunger Games was Black. So what does a Biblical Christian do when she encounters a fantasy book that contains a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender character?

Many of my stories involve interracial romances and I've had experiences where someone reads one of my stories and is unwilling to be pulled into the romance simply because they are disgusted, bothered, or nauseated by seeing two people together who --in their worldview-- should not be together. So, I try to understand. On the flip side, because I know how incredibly complex sexuality can be, I get wary of easy answers or easy stories about homosexuality. Too many of my lesbian friends were raped as children, too many of my male gay friends were seduced by older men, and too many of my gay male friends were adopted or were delivered by induced estrogen-laden deliveries for me to say that people were biologically made gay.

I suppose I can read a book about a homosexual character if I don't feel I'm being subject to propaganda. In my experience, I've known people who were born gay or who have had their sexuality affected by sexual molestation, separation/adoption issues, the hormonal chemicals introduced into the womb at induced deliveries, or became gay after some trauma or hospital stay. So I take gay folks in stories and in real life as I find them.

I have never had a gay character show up and want to have me tell his story but I have had tons of conflicted heterosexuals, and I do have some gay characters in some of my stories who aren't really gay but more characters who are conflicted heterosexuals. I think what bothers me is the vast amount of false history and false biology I would have to accept. In the same way people who study the Druids and the Celts or Native American religions get peeved when they are faced with false "pop factoids" about certain things, I start rolling my eyes when I feel an author is attempting to propagandize.

 The definition of "gay" as an exclusive love of people of one's own sex is relatively new. Back in the day, most homosexuality allowed for loving people of both sexes. It was often supplemental to a heterosexual relationship. Alexander the Great loved his companion but he also loved his wife Roxanne. Oscar Wilde loved Lord Alfred Douglas but he also loved his wife. While there were some rare exceptions, in ancient times, in most cultures (Japan, Greece, Afghanistan, etc), homosexuality was generally frowned upon while pedophilia/pederasty was accepted. One of the most famous Greek tragedies, the curse on the Oedipus clan, --the curse of falling in love with the wrong people (incest, bulls, frigidity, etc) --fell upon the family because Laius would not give up his young lover when the pederasty contract was finished and the boy was fully grown. The gods deemed it so heinous that Laius' descendants were cursed forever. Most people who speak of homosexuality being accepted by the past don't talk honestly about the pederasty factor. So for me it depends on how honest I think the author is. . .

I recently read Kari Sperring's Living With Ghosts, a great book that definitely could trouble the Christian reader. Not only did I have to deal with gigolos, homosexual attraction, and extra-marital sex, I had to deal with someone who dealt Tarot cards.



  • Mass Market Paperback:
     496 pages
  • Publisher: DAW; Original edition (March 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756405424
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756405427


So what did I do?

Well, I actually read it. My very traditional heart had a few hurdles. For one, although I'm okay with prostitution in stories, I get a bit niggly about adultery. I kept hoping there would be no adulterous encounter I would have to be "on board" for. Generally, I don't watch movies or read books with adultery in it. (This isn't a religious issue with me. My father was a serial adulterer so I have a painful spot there.) So if I read a book with adultery, my biggest fear is that I will be asked to be "okay" with it.

But the reason I made it through this story was quite simply because the story was brilliant. True, I was in the POV of a high class courtesan who happened to be bisexual, but Gracielas was such a noble wounded character and the story was so intriguing and the world-building so solid and interesting that I totally got into the story. That said, once again, I didn't allow myself to feel the homosexual attractions that happened in various characters. First because one of the homosexual pairs was married and I have a problem with being asked to be on the side of adulterers. Plus I've seen so many movies and heard so many accounts where some guy discovers he's gay after being married for twenty years and suddenly divorces his poor wife. So yeah, I kept telling myself "I like these two characters but if I'm asked to go along with adultery I'm not gonna be patient."

So yeah, with me, the issue with me is wariness of being pulled into understanding anything I don't morally agree with. Living With Ghosts had a lot my priggish Biblical mind couldn't deal with but the skill of the author and the beautiful craft of the writing helped me overcome my reluctance. I suppose the best way to make me read a book I don't want to is to make the book utterly brilliant.

Let's see what my other round-tablers think of this.


Check out all the posts at 
http://warrenrochelle.com/2012/08/27/the-great-traveling-guest-blog-fantasy-round-table-august-2012-lgbt-issues-in-fantasy/



Warren Rochelle has taught English at the University of Mary Washington since 2000. His short story, "The Golden Boy” (published in The Silver Gryphon) was a Finalist for the 2004 Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Story and his novels include The Wild Boy (2001), Harvest of Changelings (2007), and The Called (2010. He also published a critical work on Le Guin and has academic articles in various journals and essay collections.
http://warrenrochelle.com


Theresa Crater has published two contemporary fantasies, Beneath the Hallowed Hill & Under the Stone Paw and several short stories, most recently “White Moon” in Riding the Moon and “Bringing the Waters” in The Aether Age:  Helios. She’s also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches writing and British lit in Denver. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Colorado with her Egyptologist partner and their two cats. Visit her website athttp://theresacrater.com 

Andrea K Höst was born in Sweden but raised in Australia.  She writes fantasy and science fantasy, and enjoys creating stories which give her female characters something more to do than wait for rescue.  See: www.andreakhost.com

 I began writing professionally in 1982 as Deborah Wheeler with JAYDIUM and NORTHLIGHT, and short stories in ASIMOV'S, F & SF, REALMS OF FANTASY and STAR WARS: TALES FROM JABBA'S PALACE. Now under my birth name, Ross, I am continuing the" Darkover" series of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, as well as original work, including the fantasy trilogy THE SEVEN-PETALED SHIELD. I'm a member of Book View Cafe. I've lived in France, worked for a cardiologist, studied Hebrew, yoga and kung fu, and am active in the local Jewish and Quaker communities.
 http://deborahjross.blogspot.com/

Sylvia Kelso lives in North Queensland, Australia. She writes fantasy and SF set in analogue or alternate Australian settings. She has published six fantasy novels, two of which were finalists for best fantasy novel of the year in the Australian Aurealis genre fiction awards, and some short stories in Australian and US anthologies. 

Carole McDonnell is a writer of ethnic fiction, speculative fiction, and Christian fiction. Her works have appeared in many anthologies and at various online sites. Her novel, Wind Follower, was published by Wildeside Books. Her forthcoming novel is called The Constant Tower.
 http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/  


Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Next Evangelism by Soong-chan Rah



The Next Evangelism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity
by Soong-chan Rah

180 pages
IVP Books (May 2009)
English
ISBN-10: 0830833609
ISBN-13: 978-0830833603

I found these reviews

Review

"Soong-Chan Rah explores the impact of ethnic and geographic shifts on the present and future state of evangelicalism. He gives us fair warning that parts of his heartfelt book are 'intended to provoke,' and they will. But that doesn't stop his book from being timely, thoughtful and very rewarding." --Philip Jenkins, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Humanities, Pennsylvania State University, and author of The Next Christendom


Review
"In this manifesto for change, Soong-Chan Rah calls for the church to break free from limiting and exclusive paradigms and fully embrace the dramatic cultural diversity that is rapidly defining the twenty-first century in the United States. His powerfully persuasive pen engages and challenges the reader in ways that radically transform how church life is to be understood, shaped and lived. Everyone who cares about the Christian church in the United States needs to read The Next Evangelicalism. This book ignites hope for reconciliation in the world through the church."


Key endorsement on the back cover from Harvey Cox, Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard University:
"One of the most important changes now going on in America -- and indeed world -- religion is the profound transformation of evangelicalism, a movement which encompasses hundreds of millions of people. This book is the best and most balanced treatment of the subject now available. It is well researched, written and comprehensive."

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Tenses of Salvation

The Bible uses many tenses for Salvation

By Jesus stripes we were saved
We will be saved from the warth to come
We are being saved every day
We are saved and kept by God
and there are situations where we are in the position of being able to be saved.

It's not too complicated if we think of all the meanings of the word salvation and if we think of all we are required to do.

Our immortal souls are saved from hell and the wrath of God (a future occurrence.)
Our souls are being saved (in the present) from being tainted by this present evil world as we work out our own salvation through fear and trembling.
Our bodies were saved (before the foundations of the earth and when Jesus died on the cross) from disease by Jesus by whose stripes we were healed.
We are being saved (in the present) by the engrafted word of God which is able to save us but only if we abide in the word because this kind of salvation and sanctified life is given only to those who 1) seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness...and 2) rest in the word 3) forgive, 4) water the word with thanksgiving 5) are loving (because faith works by love.)

If any of us are sick and have had the prayer of faith prayed over us, we are being saved by our faith in God. This means

Jesus tells us that A) we command the body to be healed and B) we believe that our prayer has been answered because JEsus said, "When you pray believe that you receive." Jesus also said, "Everyone that asks receives." St Paul said, "All the promises of God are yes and Amen in Christ through the father."

This means:
A) It's not about whether God answered our prayers. It's about whether we believe God has answered our prayers.

B) Believe you receive WHEN you pray.

This means:
We do not "Believe when you see the answer to your prayer" (Remember, "We walk by Faith, not by sight.")

Nor do we believe that God is "going to answer" our prayers. (Remember, Daniel's prayer was answered but Satan fought against him for 21 days.)

So we are saved in the spirit and God has given healing virtue in the spiritual realm but we are to ask God for wisdom, boldness, perseverance that will enable us to get the manifestation of what God has promised.

Let's say a person comes to Christ for the saving of his soul. He believes that he is a great sinner and that Jesus SAVED him from his sin and will continue to save him from this present evil world. He then asks God to forgive him for his sins and he forgives all those who had hurt him because he knows that God has said "forgive us our sins as we forgive others." He acknowledges that he cannot get to God by his own wisdom, by any mystical experience, by his own goodness. He decides to repent from his sins and from his own dead works. He asks Jesus to save him.

What does he think God is saving him from? Well, it all depends on what he has been taught.

When does he think he is saved? Well, it all depends on what he has been taught.

Suppose he has been told by the Christian who preached to him, "When you are saved, you will be saved from all your sins and the power of sin. You will be saved from all the disease you have." It often happens that miracles occur at the point of his accepting of Christ because he was taught that Jesus saves to the uttermost. His idea of salvation is pretty large. But most people have faith for things they don't see rather than for things they do see. Remember, Jesus said, "Which is easier to say? Your sins are forgiven you? OR Take up your bed and walk?" It's easier to say "Jesus has saved your soul." Because the Christian doesn't have to put his faith on the line by actually proving anything visible. But in places where people have no prejudice against the full gospel, it's just as easy to tell the new convert "be healed" as to say "be saved." (Of course in the Bible the word for salvation means: healed, saved from sickness, saved from death, saved from hell, saved from demons.

The new convert in the west is usually told one of two things:

One of the typical thing he is told in the west: "Jesus saves your soul and has saved you from sin. This means Jesus has saved a person from the power of sin. Your spirit is now empowered to not sin. Sin has no more power over you. When you fight against sin's temptations, you will win because greater is God against you than he than is in the world."

Or the new convert is told: "Jesus saves your soul from sin. Now, go and sin no more." This is also true but the new convert is now made to feel that he is fighting sin all by his lonesome self. He must now go out into the world with his own will with no spiritual help.

Either way, let's say the new convert comes to the Christian who converted him three days later and says, "I prayed the prayer of faith but I don't feel saved. I don't feel good. I don't feel this extra love of God or this love of holiness I'm supposed to feel. I still don't like the idea of reading my Bible and I still want to smoke weed, drink, and hang out with the ho's down the block." The Christian who helped to convert him is likely to say, "Some people don't feel saved. Some do. You aren't supposed to go on how you feel. Just trust that you are. Believe that God HAS saved you and He IS saving you every day from the power of sin and that you WILL BE saved from death, the world, and the flesh. Just trust the word of God and the spirit of God and the blood of Jesus to save you....Oh yeah, and try to read your Bible anyway. Because you really need to read the word for the word to change you. The word is active powerful and transforming."

The same is true of getting a miracle for healing. We are prayed for but we say, "The Bible says, 'By Jesus stripes I am healed' but I don't feel healed." The answer is: "The Bible doesn't say you will "feel" healed. It only says you are healed. Walk by faith in the word of God and the blood of Jesus and the power of the holy spirit. You were SAVED and HEALED. The word is working within you TO SAVE AND TO HEAL you...even now! Only receive the healing as already given and you will SEE it. So, continue taking your spiritual medicine (the word of God) and the medicine your doctor has told you to take. Ask Wisdom of God about the seed and root of the illness. But think of each prayer as the moving of a mountain. When the mountain is big and faith is small, God has provided that the healing will come as the growing of a plant. First the blade, then the full plant, then the flower. So know that you are moving the mountain. The mountain may not be in the sea but it is NEAR the sea. Only believe that you have already received your healing from God." Jesus said, "Did I not say to you: If you will believe, you will see the salvation of the lord?"

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Verses that touched me this morning

Pharoah's daughter went down to the river to bathe -- Exodus 2:5
Wow!!! Think of that. A small little decision like that is direction and guidance from God....PLUS God's timing. And deliverance is made for God's people. If she had bathed elsewhere or earlier or later.... what would have happened to Moses?

The chastisement of our peace was upon him. -- Isaiah 53
Mental healing is in the redemption. So many illnesses come from not being peaceful. There are so many emotional wounds in the world. We often think of Jesus as the great physician of our bodies but he was despised and rejected of men so that our spirits can be healed.

Whatever things are lovely, true, joyous, of good report. -- Phillipians
Here I was praying to God for manifestation of my healing... but in my mind I imagine, "well, will I be able to go on an airplane? No, I imagine myself getting very tired for the entire trip." My imagination needs to be restored and trained to see good things.

And last but not least a God wink.

Backstory: when my son was just a year old I was sitting on the bed when I heard quite loudly the holy spirit say "Rest." I wasn't resting. I got up and went to the other side of my bedroom to pick up my son. He had taken four letter cubes from the pile of alphabet blocks and had spelled out in perfect order R E S T.
I was amazed...and yet... I didn't really take the advice. I should have. Maybe learning to rest back then would have spared me this fibromyalgia.

This morning I was lying in bed and the same son -- now 21-- sat beside me. I kept telling myself to rest and to stay in bed until 9:30 or 10:30 just to recoup from another night of sleeplessness. I told myself to do that every morning. But theer I was...about to get up when older son decides to come and lie down beside me on the bed. I was reading a devotional so I said to him, "Pick any number from 1 to 472." He said, 372. I turned to the page and this was the verse it was talking about: "God blessed the sabbath day because he rested." Then the devotional went on to talk about the value of resting.

This kinda stuff happens to Christians all the time. So what does one say when atheists who have never experienced these kind of things tell us that God doesn't exist?

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