Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dark Parable: Ripping my heart out

I dreamed I was in a school and a teenaged boy with many sports award wanted to leave school without taking the last examination test. I cried and wept and kept telling him he shouldn't do that, thta the test was very necessary. Then there was another kid I was crying for. Quite the weepy tears. Then there was a dance class in the gym or something like that.  Then suddenly a video of Elvis Presley (The King) dancing was seen by some of us and there was this big earthquake inside this vision of the king. And just as this vision of the earthquake happened, there was an earthquake in the real world. Some of us were saying to each other, "Did you see the vision on the wall of Elvis Presley? Did you see how the earthquake in our world happened just when it happened in that vision?" Much amazement. Cause it was a kind of phenomenon and like a vision that only a few of us saw. The school where we were was totally destroyed from the inside although one could still get around and no one seemed to have died. I opened the back door so people could come and go but someone said security didn't want us to do that because straners might get into the school. so i shut the door.

THere was a black goat impaled on the fence around the school and it was living as it bled. I felt it was placed there by someone to curse the school but who knows? it could be Jesus who became a curse for us.

I was walking outside in the town where everything seemed normal, and I saw a Christian writer friend named Grace B. I told her about the earthquake in the school. She said she didn't see any and behaved as if she doubted me. I said it only occurred in the school. I wasn't sure if she believed me after that.

I was then at my house and I had opened my body and was removing various parts and non-vital organs. Then I removed this big organ from my body. It had little fibrous stuff connected to it that I was trying to get rid of by pulling them away with my fingers. They looked like little fiddle vines and beautiful little anemones or octopus tentacles. I was scraping them away and putting them in the garbage so I could clean up the organ and send it to wherever I was sending it. Then i realised the organ  looked like a heart but was kinda like my liver, that it was a vital organ. When I realized that I started waiting to die and I said out loud, "Oh My God??? What have I done?" Then i rushed to call 911.


I don't have all the interpretation on this but I think I have the last part. So quickly: the first part. Vaguely apocalyptic but only in a certain area, in a school...and Elvis dancing might be a christ symbol... The King, after all. Not sure but I'm thinking the impaled goat is about the cursed scapegoat: Jesus who became a curse for us.

The last part is about my tendency to self-destroy whenever I get very sad. I go into reclusive self-destruct mode. Like getting rid of my blog or getting rid of stories or getting rid of people. The liver in the Bible -- the Hebrews of old times thought of it as the center of the emotions-- thus it is the heart and the liver in my dream. Liver purifies and the heart is what causes us to feel (symbolically) but I had not considered them vital to my life and was removing them. I have to be careful then whenever I am hurting or reassessing my life and what I am willing to part not drop something that is vitally important to my the blog or like my friends. I tend to be very honesty...which is maybe what I am considering reconsidering. Honesty in this life is such a detriment. But would I be Carole if I removed that aspect of my personality? Not that I worship my personality but...well...there are certain things one feels convinced is necessary in being one's self.

Not sure what the earthquake bit meant. An earth-shattering event in a place where one learns? Or why I wanted the boy to take the official test and not to trust his life to his awards alone. I must remember A Cry For Hire, the Horace poem.  I dreamed of which reminded me how to take advice. Ooh, yes, the dream...gonna add a link for that as well. The dream that spawned my story A Cry for Hire

Debra's interpretation
I think the old way of things is being transcended. I think the way some / most of the churches who corrupted Jesus' teachings will cease; they will be no longer be teaching those false lessons. People will cast off those corruptions ( if you eye offend thee pluck it out). People will see the truth. The Old Religion has often been symbolized as a goat. Jesus referred to the masses as sheep who are gentle creatures who follow without a lot of critical analysis. Goats on the other hand pick their path very deliberately as they traverse rocky hillsides.
In spite of the corrupt church trying to eliminate the old religion it lives on although impaled and bleeding.
Maybe a new school is in session. Maybe with lessons Jesus actually hoped people would understand and employ for a better life.
We learn more from the tests in life than the times we are not tested. Perhaps you wanted this young man to learn what he needed to learn; to live a more fulfilled life.
At least this is my first blurry thought on reading your dream as I wake up.

he he. heres what i think. I think its an apocalyptic dream about widespread deception  and the antichrist. kind of like a hologram elvis being the leader and you being able to see things about him that others cant or wont. "Grace" Bridges is too full of grace, to see the bad but the bad is t here. You are being infiltrated by the world and are working at extricating the worldliness out
of you but its more complicated t han you think and you  might pull the wrong stuff out if you do it yourself (parable of weeds and tares) .octoupus tentacles are worldy things trying to get ahold
and one world thinking! :)  I'm reading the book FAther ELijah by Michael o'brien and LOVING IT
its like a catholic end of the world series but SO  much better than tim lahaye garbage

 Jessica:  wow, the symbolism on your dreams
just read Tombs of Anak last night and there was a little black goat sacrificed on the perimeter to draw the spirits of death and destruction in on those who dwelt inside
according to the notes on the back, it was pulled from the general Philistine culture
the interesting thing with the fibroids though is that you did not start to die until you realize that you had removed something
 me:  wow, we're so in sync
 Jessica:  and then you started to die
 me:  WOW
 Jessica:  it's almost as if it was unnecessary until you thought that it was necessary and then it became necessary
 me:  i wasn't sure if it was a curse or not
 Jessica:  I don't think it's a curse
I think that maybe it's a matter of your mind
 me:  well i had not realized i'd yanked my liver/heart out
 Jessica:  were you sure that it was the heart or liver?
 me:  yes it was kinda both
 Jessica:  or were you just afraid that it was? because if it was, wouldn't you have felt the effects right away
rather than waiting to feel the symptoms?
 me:  i was amazed i wasnt dying though
who knows?
 Jessica:  it's almost like Wile E. Coyote running on air

 me:  dream worlds
very funny if you think of it
it could make a good cartoon panel
 Jessica:  hmmhmmm
perhaps it connects to what you were saying about doctors
 me:  but i wokeup so terrified
 Jessica:  and not believing what they say for certain
of course
it's playing on your fears
 me:  but really should i have een opening my body and cutting out body organs?
even if there was no blood
 Jessica:  well...let's look at it symbolically
 me:  so it feels like spiritual heartlessness
 Jessica:  you, spiritually heartless?
hard to imagine
 me:  for instance
 Jessica:  now for the liver and processing bile, perhaps
 me:  you are one of the few people i can argue with
and not turn my heaqrt against
that is quite a feat with me
other folks
my besetting sin
is to drop folks
 Jessica:  ahhh!
 me:  and in the dream it was as if i had done somethign so self-destructive and heartless
 Jessica:  just had a thought!

 me:  like getting rid of logan or gabe or you or logan
because i didn't want to commit to heart or maybe because i didn't realize how important that person or thing was to my spirit
 Jessica:  the liver functions to remove bile, and what if its that you cannot process the bile other people give you
arguments, stress, cruelty
 me:  wow
ooooooooooooh, so good
 Jessica:  so you avoid them as if you were missing part of your liver or almost all of it
 me:  wowww
 Jessica:  of course, the reason that you removed it was you were also trying to make sure that you got it clean
anemones and the like need to grow in areas with bile and infection, which is part of how they clean the ocean
 me:  yes, they seemed very floral like lovely little
but they were clogging stuff
 Jessica:  yes
 me:  but why the terror when i shouted, "What have i done?"
and actually
i was prettying it up
to put it on sale
 Jessica:  good
but you also need your liver
interesting too
is that you were only prettying it up to bless someone else

 me:  getting rid of those pesky little fibrers
 Jessica:  you were not doing it for yourself
 me:  oh please, you're being too nice there
 Jessica:  ahh no
 me:  it was orga ntrafficking
 Jessica:  I think it's very true
 me:  and getting rid of the parts of mysself
i felt i could live without
 Jessica:  hm, let me reread it
it would be a loose definition of organ trafficking
because there are lots of folks who donate organs for nothing
but am pondering what it would mean
for organ trafficking, it would mean that you might have been in a somewhat desperate situation or feeling the need
did you have any particular emotions or feelings before the terror?
 Sent at 2:36 PM on Saturday
 me:  no..just the first dream..and i wasn't worried but i was miffed that the christian girl grace didn't believe me about the earthquake
i think my mind used her because
she has had epilepsy all her life
and she thought me making loic have epilepsy whenever he ate grains
was wrong and said so
then a few months ago she suddenly emailed me and said
i am so sorry i was rude to you when you said that earlier

times people treated epilepsy with
grain removal
 Jessica:  wow
 me:  i had to laugh
i hadn't seen the rudeness at all
but it was on her mind all these years
so she appeared
 Jessica:  there's something else that's interesting in the dream
in one sense the they are related
 me:  in my dream as a christian who doesn't believe something i tell her
 Jessica:  you were so distraught and struggling with the boy not listening
and then with her not believing you
 me:  grace is a good name though for symbolism in a dream
 Jessica:  but you did not seem to turn away from them
 me:  christians have this very narrow restricted way of being
and they often will not believe you if they haven't heard others say it
 Jessica:  indeed
 me:  wow you're good
 Jessica:  perhaps the dreams are encouraging you to find that balance
 me:  so the dream is really so much about my sense of helping or trying to tell something to folks who don't value it
 Jessica:  because with the bottom dream, you would not be able to handle any
but in the first segment, you were unable to detach yourself
and it was grieving you deeply
just like it was with that writer you were trying to help and her story
but the other thing that connects is that in the beginning as in the end, you were not tending to yourself to keep the temple in its proper condition so to speak
 Sent at 2:42 PM on Saturday
 Jessica:  and it does bother me a little bit for your sake that you allowed those fibroids (which remind me of the fibromyalgia) to remain in your body until you were thinking about sending them elsewhere for other folks
it's almost a willingness to accept less than optimal condition for yourself
 me: non-rebuking way of looking at the dream
 Jessica:  plus to continue with the organ trafficking image, generally those who give up their organs in the industry give them up because their lives are "worth less"
and that's why the traffickers follow it and promote that concept
either the donor's life is worth less than the person to whom the organ is to be given or the donor's life is worth less than a child or someone who they hope to help provide for
 Sent at 2:46 PM on Saturday
 me:  and really considering all the heartfelt talks with youthful lambs,,,
 Jessica:  yes
 Sent at 2:47 PM on Saturday
 me:  and christians who won't past the tests
 Jessica:  hmmmhmmm
 me:  but who have many awards
the world's recognition but still something else is needed
that's why the earthquake takes place in the school but not in the world at large
it's aimed for those in the school
i guess i'm working on my reasons for the fibro
 was praying for you last night
 me:  and the world's doctors are okay
but we have to heal by strengthening our immune system so we don't attack ourselves
but we are so trained to be spiritual and to belittle our emotions that somehow we attack ourselves
 Jessica:  yes

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sin: A History

Sin: A History 
Gary A. Anderson (Yale University press)

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (September 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300149891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300149890

Here's the blurb:

What is sin? Is it simply wrongdoing? Why do its effects linger over time? In this sensitive, imaginative, and original work, Gary Anderson shows how changing conceptions of sin and forgiveness lay at the very heart of the biblical tradition. Spanning nearly two thousand years, the book brilliantly demonstrates how sin, once conceived of as a physical burden, becomes, over time, eclipsed by economic metaphors. Transformed from a weight that an individual carried, sin becomes a debt that must be repaid in order to be redeemed in God’s eyes.

Anderson shows how this ancient Jewish revolution in thought shaped the way the Christian church understood the death and resurrection of Jesus and eventually led to the development of various penitential disciplines, deeds of charity, and even papal indulgences. In so doing it reveals how these changing notions of sin provided a spur for the Protestant Reformation.

Broad in scope while still exceptionally attentive to detail, this ambitious and profound book unveils one of the most seismic shifts that occurred in religious belief and practice, deepening our understanding of one of the most fundamental aspects of human experience.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Is the world influenced by the supernatural

Is the world magical?

Okay, i haven't used witch or wizard -- so that's a good thing.

But for this once, let me use magical...rather than spiritual...
and please assume i mean only the best. How about supernatural?
Or fantastical?

One of my big problems with christians is how the simple mention of a word
can turn them off. but the christians have not given the world a replacement for the word "magic"
the nearest one can think is "a fairy tale" but that is too light. Or "fantastical."
but magical is not the right word either. Christians will not give the word "magical" a chance.
It's a bit like how C S Lewis has suffered because of his use of the word myth or Madeliene L'engle has suffered
because she used the word "fantasy." Both describe the ultimate reality. God's reality. Christ's reality.
So what will I do with this word "magical"? Obviously, I can't redeem it because it is used in the Bible to
show man's attempt to connect to the evil dark forces in the universe.

SO let me use the world "supernatural." And I hope I don't get slammed for this word,
although "supernatural" seems to separate the world into (generally) natural .
then suddenly some stuff rarely happens that is a bit off-center a bit supernatural?
Supernatural implies that the godly, the numinous, the weird, happens only rarely. 
Magical implies rules we know nothing about...but which are ever-present because 
the world at its core is following rules created by laws and a force higher than the ones we understand.

So is the world supernatural?
It is, in that there are forces operating that our rational minds
don't know, understand or have forgotten. I understand I'm using a 
word that many Christians are taught to hate. Perhaps i should have used
miraculous or wondrous or odd.

But  think of it: all the world, all the universe, all the mega-verses are in line with God except for this one rebel outpost that does't understand his love or his power or his ways. Because of that loss, that rebellion, that utter lack of knowledge we don't easily fall in line with the power-force-supernatural ways. We christians are called to bring God's light and god's ways into this world -- his power, force, magice, whatever we may call it-- to bring the world closerto being transformed by His power, to call the world out of darkness into God's marvelous light.
But all this loveliness is turned into doctrine theology mode -- instead of delight and simplicity and resting in a trust that the underlying spiritual laws of God are really what rules the world. Sad

There is the issue of non-humans and their effect on the world.
There are curses  in the family line,  ways  in which we curse
ourselves, by actions,  thoughts,  deeds

There is the question of what wecan controland what has power over us
and God's intervention;  there is prayer, working through  evil
spirits,  like Pharoh's magicians; working thru sacrements such as
baptism,  that transforms  us, sacrements that put us in covenants
with God and  others;  sacrements  that give us power, like the laying
on of  hands, there is speaking God's word and decreeing it to come to past...

So  how magical  is  this  world? And how magical is it intended to
be?  Jesus saved us to the uttermost. He gave us a great salvation.
Through him, through the ritual of his blood, through his work of
saving  us, He has restored dominion and power to a new kind of  man.

This new kind of man is battling all the time with the old kind of
man.  So we really don't know, as individuals, or as a church, the
greatness to which we are called in this life.

The world, the human flesh, the devil, fight against this great
salvation.  We don't know how much power we have over death,over
sickness, over things great and small, through the name of Christ.

Because it is through faith in the name of Christ that we are called
to show forth God's glory. But our imagination can't attain to the
knowledge, the height, width, depth, length of God's power working in
us who believe in Christ.  We almost  it. I feel as if it's like
learning to swim  or ride a bike. The place where one reaches that
tipping pointwhereone learning to float on the  everlasting arms.  In
learningtokeep  ones  balance whileriding on God's glory. I feel the
day will come when I and all the church will be swept away, water past
the knees, water past the thighs,waters to swim in, when we will truly
 understand that  the world is based on faith,on irrational,wonderful
things,on true magic.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Coconut Oil Giveaway

So, seeing I have this over-the-top Jamaican worship of coconut oil, when I saw that Tropical Traditions was sending out samples of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil for review ...well, seeing I am a writer....well, yeah, I jumped for it. I didn't have to review it, mind you...but hey, why receive something for free and not review it? Besides, I want all the world to know the greatness of coconut oil, whatever company one buys it from. sample arrived soon after I signed up. I actually squealed. It was like getting a prize. I love free stuff coming in the mail.

First impressions: Wow, this is one classy looking bottle. Second impression: They sent me two pint jars instead of one large quart jar. Good idea. I can use one as the ointment I can dip into and the other I can keep cleaner and use for spooning. Third impression: These bottles have large openings. Unlike those bottles that have narrow openings. Honestly, who would put coconut oil in bottles with narrow openings? It's a major chore to get it out of narrow bottles...and one certainly can't smooth it out. Not naming any names but a certain company should remember that some of its customers live in cooler climates where coconut oil becomes hard as a rock. That's why when I have to get coconut oil I get the Goya brand because it comes in a wide jar. Impressions on opening it: oh my goshhhhhh... I love that smell. It smelled so fresh compared to the Goya. Impressions on touching it: felt totally ..trying to think of a word here. It felt less industrialized. It felt fresh and real. Then finally taste: OOh, it melts in the mouth. 

So then here is the video

Now, they have a giveaway for this oil. I'm generally lazy about the whole giveaway thing but hey, they'll do all the work. They'll provide a free quart of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil as the winner’s prize for this giveaway and they will ship the oil directly to the winner I choose. 

So, if you want the giveaway, 

2) Post on your blog about how you Use Coconut Oil or link to their how-to-use-coconut-oil page:

3) Simply email me at SCIFIWRITIR (AT) GMAIL.COM with your name, telephone number, email address, and shipping address. I'll pick the winner and send them the info. They don't share this information with anyone! Open to U.S. & Canada. I'll pick the winner a week from now. How's that?

4)  Follow them on Twitter @troptraditions and @ttspecialdeals
5)     “Like” Tropical Traditions on Facebook (Please don't add that you were sent by me. That's not necessary and those posts will be removed.
6)  Follow them on Pinterest

Friday, May 18, 2012

See, I get to take credit for that

"See, I get to take credit for that."

That's one of my favorite author quotes.

In order for you to understand it, I guess I should tell you about the circumstances in which Edward Albee came to say it.

He was being interviewed by someone about one of his plays. The interviewer said, "Oh I love the way you brought in this myth and this religious allusion and this societal issue."

Sorry, I don't remember the specifics but you know what I mean. There are times when you write a book or a story and reviewers find such lovely things in it...things you had never consciously put into it. When I wrote Wind Follower I was aware of a few of the myths, social history, historical and political events I was addressing. But when the reviewers and critical text analysts got to it, wow!!!!! They saw such glories in my book.

Well, I suppose when notified of all the wonderful subtexts happening in my novel I remembered Edward Albee's words and said, "Actually, I wasn't even aware that that was in there, and I had no conscious plan to put it in the book. Thanks. I get to take credit for that."

I don't know about other folks but I was a lit major. I like analyzing stories in the larger context and I like being analyzed. Makes me feel valid. Some of my stories are thin, mind you and they have no resonance. But it's so wonderful when a story has all these layers and readers can see such interesting cultural, religious, and social issues in them.

Most writers tend to be pleased to see that their stories are rich enough to carry so many subtexts. When a reader finds stuff in a story that the writer didn't consciously put into the story, it shows the writer is A) listening to the universal unconscious B) allowing true creativity to flow through him and through his own experience of life C) taking part in the great creative communal conversation of his time, D) well-read and E) downright deep.

It is that odd writer who says, "no, my work is not that rich. My work doesn't connect to these primal, or cultural, or social issues. My work only goes to this area and I refuse to see in it what I myself did not put into it."

Who wants to write stories that don't resonate? Who wants to write stories that echo only what one consciously puts into them? What is the glory of a story that is utterly man-made and lacking the true spirit of the universal subconscious?


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Interpretations, interpretations

Okay, so there I am continually downloading mp3 and windows media sermons because well I'm trying to abide in the spiritual vine and keep my first and last thoughts on Jesus. Hey, I'll do all this to get my son's healing to manifest. Jesus bought son's healing 2000 years ago on the cross and yeah, I'm stubborn enough to get it...cause I'm pushy and bitchy like that.

So anyway...these sermons. Aside from the fact that one has to be really careful how one hears and that there are all these pastors out there telling you NOT to have faith for miracles because well God is unpredictable. (Okay...they say, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, but it might not be his will to heal you and free you from the oppression of the devil. Okay...they say, God created a world based on biological, physical, chemical, physical law -- but when it comes to spiritual laws they want us to believe that God is just whimsical or not gonna heal you for "your own good.")

So yeah, aside from those....there are also pastors whom I can only call folks who are totally rooted in the rational. St Paul would call them carnal because for Paul anyone who used only human reasoning was carnal and not spiritual. The interesting thing so far is how they interpret certain scriptures.

Example: the parable of the sower. A sower goes to sow. Some of the seed he sowed fell on the wayside and was trodden down. No results there. Some fell on hard land. These sprung up quickly but had no roots so died soon after springing up. Some fell amid thorns. Plants strangled. Some fell on good ground and brought forth good plants. And of those good plants some gave 30 times the fruits, 60 times the fruits, 100 times the fruits.

According to Jesus if you don't understand this parable, you will never understand any of the parables. This parable is THAT important.

In Matthew's gospel, Jesus said the seed is the kingdom. In Luke's or Marks' he says the seed is the word of God. Now, I have no problem with the difference between the interpretations and whether Jesus said the seed is the kingdom or the seed is the word of God. Because taken on a spiritual level the kingdom of God is within us. And Jesus said the word of God is alive and it IS the kingdom and it feeds the kingdom. So, yeah, I'm not gonna sweat the semantics because I get the spiritual idea that both words pretty much carry the same meaning.

But these sermons I download...I am telling you it is ALWAYS some guy who thinks he's an intellectual who berates others for not "seeing" the truth who comes up with Bible exegesis and sermons so lacking in spiritual insight that it really makes you think: Is this guy kidding?????

When I went on my audio search and searched for sermons about the parables to download, did I think I would encounter such diversity of opinion? One could expect that kind of stuff when one downloads miracles (are the age of miracles past or not?) or speaking in tongues (Are the gifts of the holy spirit still present today?) but the parables?????

My friends, the guy I listened to yesterday said the parable of the sower is only about God's future restoration of Israel because the parable is about the kingdom of God. He said the seed that landed on good ground was when Israel -- geographically and at the end of the age-- will be established as God's true kingdom. All the other examples, says he, of the seed's bad planting was about humans trying to establish their own kingdoms of God on the earth. Then he went on and on about how intellectual he was and how we should all use human reason to understand these things. Okay, I'm cool. I can accept his assertions that humans are always trying to create perfect kingdoms on earth. I'm all for Israel. I'm actually very pro-Israel. And I KNOW that many prophecies concern the establishing of Israel and God's kingdom. But I wanted to shout to this guy, "Buddy, your interpretation about the parable misses the spiritual point. It may be valid in the governmental sense but you are too rational to understand or hear the Spirit speaks about how the kingdom of God works."

Now, I'm pretty cool about strange sermons. My grandfather was a methodist minister. My grandaunt was a charismatic former Roman Catholic nun. My mother was episcopalian and I had a very virulent activist gay theologian priest for some time. I can listen to any sermon. But on the other hand, I do kinda roll my eyes when a minister goes so far off the deep end one begins wondering if he actually knows how to swim -- spiritually speaking. So I stand amazed that there are so many people teaching sermonizing prophecizing who simply are so totally earthbound. They always talk about what they learned in seminary as if God's word is etched in a kind of old lecture they heard from a professor. God's word is living and it's how it speaks to you in a given situation. And it ALWAYS speaks of spiritual things. Do they listen to God and hear the spirit? Sorry, very long post. back to listening to sermons. Am hoping I come upon a good one. Wasted my day yesterday listening to this arrogant jerk.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Being unfaithful to the heavenly vision

Therefore, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: Acts 26:19

For every work of art there are three versions: The book we should have written, the book we wanted to write, and the book we finally wrote. Much gets in the way to prevent us from being faithful to the artistic vision. Sometimes we are afraid we lack the skill, sometimes we are afraid of being too weird for the marketplace, sometimes we didn’t fully understand the vision.

I had a dream once of a beautiful sculpture in a beautiful city. When I woke up, I only half-remembered the sculpture and the city. When I described the sculpture and the city to my husband, the image no doubt deteriorated further in his mind (after all, he isn’t in my mind.) And if he were to draw the picture in his mind of the dream picture in my mind, he would be further away from the dream city vision. And if I were to attempt to describe this city in a work of art, perhaps scientific, emotional, moral, and marketplace factors would limit the vision. Or if a reviewer or reader were to see the painting or read the book describing this city, the image would be even further away from the dream image. That’s the way it is in art; there is always an almosting.

So there is Peter on top of the roof when he gets this vision which God translates to mean, "Gentiles are okay now. God has cleansed them. Therefore you can now bring the gospel to them and not worry about connecting and communing with them." (Book of Acts, chapters ten and eleven.)

He repeats this testimony about three times. (And we also hear Paul's testimony about his own vision three times.)

Not to mention Peter's vision on the mountain when he saw Elias and Moses.

But back to the vision on the roof.

One would think that seeing this vision and seeing the impact on the disciples and the Gentiles, Peter would've stuck to being Peter. But he goes back to being his old Simon self and when certain disciples came from James, Peter --- uh, Simon-- goes back to avoiding the Gentiles. Paul had to call him out on this. (Galatians 2:12)

How can one have seen such a great vision and yet forget it? How can one not be obedient to such a heavenly vision?

Even stranger, Jesus had told Peter he would be sifted. Jesus had told Simon not to be such a "simon" (reed, blown about my the wind) but to be a "Peter" (a rock.) And Jesus had even spoken the word of blessing by calling Simon by the new name of Peter. Obviously, we have to work with God. God can't make us into something if we don't work with it.

I wonder about heavenly visions as well. Getting a vision often incurs all kinds of temptations. Joseph and the patriarchs hear from God that they are to be great in some way and what do they do? It makes Abraham and Isaac assume God doesn't speak to the Gentiles (Pharoah and Abimelech). It makes Jacob covet his brother's birthright because obviously his mom told him it would be his anyway. It makes Joseph walk around snitching on his brothers.

How can we then be faithful to the vision without being jerks? And how can we not be faithful to the heavenly vision when God has clearly ordered it?

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Geared to praise

We human beings are geared to praise. Sometimes it doesn't seem that way but we really are. The Bible tells us over and over to praise God. It tells us not to take His name in vain. It tells us to love Him.

I'm not an expert in other religions but I suspect that Buddha and Allah do not ask for our love as much as Yahweh, The Judeo-Christian God does. He doesn't only want us to obey. He wants us to love Him.

Love is such a wonderful thing and love is wonderfully interwoven with praise. How can we not praise what we love? Although we are commanded to obey God, mere obedience to God doesn't cut it. Joyous appreciation of His love, joyous overwhelming happiness at His care, guidance, provision are things a Christian should be aware of. And when we become aware of this, we cannot help but praise.

There are three things that are anti-praise, things that deny God true praise:

First: Whining and murmuring. The Bible warns us often not to do this. Whiners imply that God isn't taking care of them, that He is unaware of them, that He is unloving.

Second: Praising the wrong things or praising in the wrong way. The human heart can be so manipulated by the media, human sinfulness, wrong priorities, that often we end up praising the wrong thing. How shallow it is to praise clothing, human medicine, cooking, and yet not to go further and praise the God who made all these things. Furthermore... loving the beat of a song or the "beauty" of a song or the artfulness of a song is not really praising God. It's aesthetics. A lovely church service does not mean that your heart has worshiped.

Third: No praise at all. Some folks simply do not praise God. They don't praise anything. Heaven knows what their problem is. Maybe they think God already knows how they feel about Him. Maybe they are self-conscious. Maybe they weren't praised as kids and so they find it hard to simply say, "God, you're amazing. I love you so much." Whatever the problem-- emotional issues or human wilfulness-- it's like pulling teeth to get these folks to praise God even in the privacy of their own bedroom.

Fourth: Listening to praise songs. Okay, I understand all about soaking music. And I understand the use of choirs...but really I can't think of any verse in the Bible which tells us to listen to songs. God's people are always commanded to join in with the praise and singing. We are all commanded to sing praises to God. Praise comes when both the heart and mouth are moved. Praise has power when both the heart and mouth are moved. If one simply sits and listens to praise songs, no matter how moved one is in the heart...praise isn't happening. The mouth must be opened, the mouth must join in with the praise. If you can't talk, God will understand you can't sing...but even so... try to sing along.

Fifth: Never singing to the Lord a new song. God has commanded us to sing a new song to him. This is not about tradition. I love old hymns and new songs. But when we are in our house and we spontaneously sing a new song to God, we are showing a new understanding of God in our life. New revelations of God's love and power should lead to new songs.

Well folks. It's ALWAYS the Christmas season. It's always RESURRECTION DAY. A time when God sent his son to live as one of us. What an amazing and lovely God and what a wonderful plan to make us understand what our God is really like. Praise ye the Lord.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Tropical Traditions -- Coconut Oil

Ah, Coconut Oil, what Jamaican household would be without it! 

For those of you who have been scared off coconut oil --when butter and oil were being vilified in favor of such man-made dangerous monstrosities like margarine-- welcome back to the sane side of life. 

Now that margarine and other supposedly-healthy man-made fats are  being shown as dangerous -- and less healthy than natural facts-- I'd like to introduce you to some of the tropical traditions of using coconut oil.

First: Jamaicans swear it alleviates congestion. Got someone with a nasty bronchitis or congestion? They'll tell you to get coconut oil, rub the person's chest and head. Sure, you'll end up with a gooey pillow and slip-slidey sheets but the phlegm and mucus will loosen. Jamaican mothers will often say "Find the mold on his head." Or maybe they say "find the mole." Whatever the actual spelling, they mean to find the center part of the top of the head and to slather the head with coconut oil. Trust me as a Jamaican mother, it works for me.

Second use for coconut oil. I found this one out the hard way. I once made the very bad mistake of getting into the shower after putting Vicks Vapor Rub on my chest. If you've never done that, don't do it. If you HAVE done it, you know whereof I speak. That sucker burns and burns and there is nothing to stop it. Oh, did I say nothing? Yes, you guessed it: The coconut oil stopped it. Just like that. Oh my gosh, it was like heaven. Again, I'm not saying this is some super-cure. I'm not saying it can alleviate inflammations. I'm just saying that I was waaaaaaaaay glad to have that coconut oil around. 

Third use for coconut oil: Battling nasty external fungal infections. Again, I'm not being medical here. This is personal, and anecdotal but here goes: I cannot eat raisins. If i eat them i end up with a nasty yeast infection and fungal bumps on my upper inner thighs. Embarrassing and painful. It might take three weeks to work off that nasty yeast infection. With coconut oil, the thing was gone in about two, yeah...old wives tale proven true. . 

Fourth use: This kinda connects to the previous one. Except it's internal. My son was battling sinusitis. Trouble is sometimes a kid won't take it because coconut oil tends to be solid instead of liquid. So you might have to blend it with something like bananas or leave it on the stove to melt or warm up the spoon you use to dip into the oil. Again, I can only say that this is my experience. The kid felt wonderful after using it. 

Fifth use: internal agent against obesity. A little goes a long way but for those who need certain kinds of fats in their bodies, trying coconut oil helped me lose weight.  Might just be me but there goes. Of course I didn't over-do it.

There are other uses as well.

Monday, May 07, 2012


As I go through my writing life -- critting folks, pouring my hearts into stories-- I have become more and more convinced that the biggest flaw in any story occurs when a writer tries to hide herself.

"Ah," I hear someone saying, "But don't most writers try to show themselves?"

Well, yes and no. Some writers get caught up with declaring and showing everything about their life...but it's usually pretty much a list of their sorrows, their goodness, their life as a victim or a sufferer. Other writers --under the guise of "writing purely" or "writing the real historical research" or "art for art's sake" behave as if their stories are totally above the neurotic.

Well, as all of you know by now....I like exploring the neurotic and the weird in myself. Heck, I like exploring the neurotic and the weird in other people. And mercifully, I am mature and loving enough to not judge folks who are honest....(although being honest in a work of art is pretty much asking for some uncompassionate person to lay some judgment on you.) So, yeah, I understand why folks hide the sinful, flaky, weird, neurotic, embarrassing parts of themselves.

The trouble, though, is that we leak. It's like our slip showing or our dirty underwear peeking out over our way too-big pants. (I speak from experience about those pants by the way.) Folks with an astute insightful eye are gonna notice stuff about us. As has been said, a bad novel tells us about the novelist. (But a good novel can tell us about the novelist as well.)

But first the bad novels.

There is the thinly-veiled main character as victim story that sounds so one-sided the reader wants to scream. This is hard to critique because you're dealing with a person who has built up a fortress of defenses. I remember a girl who wrote a story about being forced to have an abortion by her evil religious mother. Okay, i could take her mother as being evil and religious...but I asked the writer to give the religious mother one good trait or a backstory where we could see where the evil mother went bad. I also wanted her to consider realizing her main character, the pregnant teenager, might have had the good and bad traits of the typical teenager. Okay, it was like asking someone to defend Hitler/Stalin?Mao Tse Tung combined. Granted, I have never met anyone who is pure evil -- but I have met folks who were pretty close to pure evil-- but in a story one can make a villain still be a mean villain while humanizing her. And this author was not near good enough to carry off writing a story about her victimized life.

Then there is the character as star. This is something that is probably a result of TV shows and movies. This particular character is always impeccably dressed, etc. Now, you may ask, why does it matter that a character is impeccably-dressed? Because, questioner, some characters and some heroines are not impeccably-dressed. I remember being at a critique circle and someone described her character. The response of the another woman in the group was that that character sounded country and wasn't wearing fashionable clothes. That is what happens when we think novels are only about people who are stars, or who can be played by stars.  Someone can be noble and still be butt-ugly, someone can be a hero and still wear head-scarves etc.

Hiding your flaws will only make your stories weaker. Put away the pretenses; realize what you have been through, how very marked you are, how apparent your traits really are and write honestly.

Okay, a conversation: I leak in my stories. The thing is I don't mind leaking. I work with the leak. I'm not sure if this is because I am brave or disdainful of other folks or if I've been so judged by folks that I don't give a damn anymore. One thing I do know is that I don't try to hide my leaks because the story reeks of dishonesty or it looks as if I don't know myself.

My readers know this about me:

Carole McDonnell is a bit of an Oreo. She doesn't seem to fit well into Black culture. Her female characters are Black but she places them inside a world of non-Black folks.
Guilty: I've made Oreoism "multicultural."

Carole McDonnell doesn't seem to get along with many Christians. She's got grudges galore it seems.
Guilty: But by making Christians judgmental and some Christians non-judgmental and by acknowledging this in my novels, I can get away with a lot.

Carole McDonnell seems to like pretty young men.
Guilty, but I can get away with it because the culture is into pretty guys as well.

Carole McDonnell really hates weak men and often seems to put her female characters into situations where the woman is trapped by marriage.
Guilty, but really...don't I do that well? Aren't my stories really different despite the same trope? And won't feminists think I'm exploring the whole marriage thing?

Carole McDonnell whines about her illness a lot. Why does she always have to have sick women in her stories or sick disabled children?
Guilty, but hey I pull it off for the most part.

Again, I repeat the words I heard long ago from a storyteller at a storytelling conference:

Folks, don't hide from your neuroses... Writing is not for those with pretenses. Just make your neuroses elegant. 

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Okay, so are new Bibles dangerous, evil, or pornographic?

Okay, so are new Bibles pornographic? I really don't think so.

Remember that in addition to their moral, doctrinal, and ecclesiastical biases, translators have decisions to make over linguistic nuances. Plus knowledge of the Hebrew and Greek languages, punctuation, and linguistic rules have grown over the centuries because of modern archaeology and anthropology. 

Translation is tough as it is. Most words have many meanings and shades of meanings so it's difficult to find the perfect English word for a Hebrew or Greek word from back in the day. Consider the Hebrew word used in Job: 2:9. "It can mean either to bless or to curse." So our idea of Mrs. Job depends on the translator's ideas about what he thinks the verse means. Heck, it depends on if the translators understand Mrs Job's pain. So the KJV translators chose to translate it as "Curse God and die." Other translators from other version choose either "bless" or "curse." Most translators choose "curse" but others choose "renounce" or "bless." One wonders how the translation would be if a woman had been on the translation committee. Understandably, it's a troublesome word because it has two opposite meanings. But in English we have a word like that: cleave. Cleave can either mean "put together" or it can mean "tear apart."

If you think translating from another language is tough, try translating to English from English .
What are we to do with a verse such as this one?

And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 2 Peter 2:7
Okay, most folks will understand that "deliver" means "rescue"  and a few may understand that "conversation" means "conduct"...but what are we to do with the word "just"?? In English the word "just" can mean either "only" or "righteous." So the NIV clears things up a lot by translating this as 
and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men
 Not to mention that certain words used in the days of King James have changed in meaning. Would most people nowadays who hadn't read a Bible understand that "suffer the little children" means "allow the little children"?

(Have you ever tried telling a Mormon that "on the order of Melchizedek" means simply "just like Melchizedek?" (A being without father or mother.) Mormons actually believe there is an order of Melchizedek. This kind of stuff only happens when folks don't know basic Shakesperean English.  Or consider the phrase, "The light shines in darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it." If one reads the King James Version only and doesn't understand how words have changed, one might not realize that the old word "comprehend" means "to overcome."

It's evident from reading the King James Version of the Bible that either different translators worked with different notions of how words should be translated or the same translator chose to translate the word one way in one passage and another way in another passage. For instance, "full of grace" in one instance but "accepted in the beloved" in another instance. Not to mention some passages within a single book where a word is spelled "ensamples" in one instance then "examples" in another section. 

So, here is a passage from Song of Solomon 7:2 that supposedly is pornographic. 

Here's the KJV version. Thy navel is like a round goblet, which wanteth not liquor: thy belly is like an heap of wheat set about with lilies. 
The NLT version:
Your navel is perfectly formed like a goblet filled with mixed wine. Between your thighs lies a mound of wheat bordered with lilies.

The problem here seems to be with the word translated "belly." Actually, in Hebrew, it's the word for "lap" so already we are beginning to see the problem. Laps don't really exist, do they? They disappear when we stand up and sit down. But the other problem is that "lap" here is a euphemism and a slang. Some versions of the Bible translate the euphemism, the  symbolism, or slang, while others translate the meaning of the symbol. 

A symbol tends to be better because it can be applied to many situations "Cast your bread on the waters and you will find it after many days" could mean anything from "Invest in various ventures." to "Give to the poor" to "Don't put all your nest-egg in one basket." So if a person tries to translate the actual meaning of the proverb, things can get pretty narrowed.

Of course the flowing symbolic language has a lot of echoes, but when it comes to bodily functions, sexuality, etc....well, translating gets complicated.

For instance, some translators of the KJV use the slang "he that pisseth against the wall" to mean a male, while other KJV translators simple say "a man." So even in the KJV different translators choose different ways of expressing the same idea. Consider the phrase  "he uncovereth his feet."  This is one confusing slang that was used in the story of Ehud and the fat king in the book of Judges, the story of Ruth and Boaz, and the story of Noah. It seems to mean anything from being actually undressed in the lower parts, as in going to the bathroom, to being symbolically undressed. Lord knows what it means. So a prudish translator might translate it one way, and a translator who is less prudish might translate it another way but who really knows what the real meaning is...since the slang itself is so old. We have to take our meaning of it from the context...and if we are prudish we will read Ruth's actions one way, but if we are lascivious we will read it another way...and really who knows what the real answer is. The more we learn about anthropology, ancient linguistics and punctuation, history, and archaeology, the more we understand what a word in the Bible actually means. 

Consider Joseph's clothes of many colors. Tamar also had one of those clothes. The rulers of those days often wore those ornamented vests and cloaks. If one reads the KJV without knowing history, one would be tempted to believe the brothers were jealous because of the pretty cloak....when what was going on was more important and significant: Joseph was being set up to rule over his brothers. 

Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours. Gen 37:3 KJV
Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. NIV
In the story of Tamar, the chroniclers of 2 Samuel even had to explain what the robe Tamar was wearing signified.
So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. She was wearing a richly ornamented robe, for this was the kind of garment the virgin daughters of the king wore. 2 Samuel 13:18
Now, the KJV translators were for the most part honest. If they weren't sure of the meaning of a word or if they paraphrased something, they added italics. So the KJV abounds with italics. Over the years, many of the italicized words have become understood by translators (although those who are KJV-only folks often behave as if the KJV italics were God-ordained. And even the Book of Mormon has used whole sections of the KJV, namely the sections in Isaiah and other sections, where they use the passages with the italics the KJV translators inserted.) 

Fact is though that the translators of the KJV and the Geneva Bible (which influenced the KJV greatly) had different ideas on words. And again their own doctrinal or denominational biases and their own educated sense of the usage of each word affected the way they translated certain words. Sometimes it's fairly innocuous: Some translators translated Noah's name as Noah, other's spelled it as Noe. Sometimes it's a political compromise. Some translators translated one word as "overseer' while others translate it as "bishop." 

Sometimes their choice of translation is downright dangerous. For instance, when Luke writes in the book of Acts about a healing that took place on the island of Malta, (Acts 28:9) the KJV reads;

So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed: 

When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured.

It seems like a small thing to some but in a subtle way it shows that the translator who worked on this part of the book of Acts couldn't quite get it around his head that EVERYONE sick on the island was healed. 

Consider punctuation also. Talk about the importance of a comma or a period! Punctuation can create a whole vast confusion of theology if one doesn't know where a period, a quotation mark, or a comma is placed. Depending on the Bible one reads, one can think Jesus is saying something he might not be saying.
Consider  this exchange Mark 9:22,23;

The question put to Jesus in Mark 9:22 is as follows:
"It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!"

Jesus' answer in Mark 9:23 -- depending on which Bible one reads is as follows;

New International Version
"'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."

New Living Translation (©2007)
"What do you mean, 'If I can'?" Jesus asked. "Anything is possible if a person believes."

English Standard Version (©2001)
And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
And Jesus said to him, "'If You can?' All things are possible to him who believes."

King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

International Standard Version (©2008)
Jesus said to him, "'If you are able?' Everything is possible for the person who believes!"

Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)
Yeshua said to him, “If you are able to believe, everything is possible to the one who believes.”

GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)
Jesus said to him, "As far as possibilities go, everything is possible for the person who believes."

King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
Jesus said unto him, If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes.

American King James Version
Jesus said to him, If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes.

American Standard Version
And Jesus said unto him, If thou canst! All things are possible to him that believeth.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And Jesus saith to him: If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

Darby Bible Translation
And Jesus said to him, The 'if thou couldst' is if thou couldst believe: all things are possible to him that believes.

English Revised Version
And Jesus said unto him, If thou canst! All things are possible to him that believeth.

Webster's Bible Translation
Jesus said to him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

Weymouth New Testament
"'If I possibly can!'" replied Jesus; "why, everything is possible to him who believes."

World English Bible
Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."

Young's Literal Translation
And Jesus said to him, 'If thou art able to believe! all things are possible to the one that is believing;'

And let's not even talk about the contention about where Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus actually ended in John chapter 3. But moving on to the main part of this blog. 

So upshot? Do I think the KJV is God-appointed? No, I think it's a bit of a cult actually...a cult based in fear of changes and our worship of English. I just don't think the other Bibles are planned by evil illuminati trying to destroy Christians. After all, the KJV itself has some places where it dampens the faith of believers. That said, the KJV is one of my favorite Bible translations because it is A) beautiful B) because i can understand it, C) because the writer in me likes reading high english  and D) because it gathers many different manuscripts together. Some BIbles only use certain manuscripts. The story of Jesus and the woman who was threatened with stoning, for instance, does not appear in certain very old manuscripts. But just because it doesn't appear doesn't mean it didn't happen. It sounds like something Jesus would've done. ;-)

Anyway, again: I have no problems with the other Bibles. My faith in my Lord and Saviour does not rest on the mere written word but on the Living Word inside me....although, like I said, I do love the Bible. I have about six of them...different versions. I recommend that. 

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